Do you have a great class? Does great Bible teaching take place every week? Are your relationships good? Do you wonder why more adults don’t take advantage of the opportunity? What could you do to woo adults to your class?
Gospel Publishing House has an interesting article on their Discipleship Ideas website entitled Attracting Adult Learners. In the article, four keys are listed for successful adult classes in being “attractive to today’s adult and effective in fulfilling Jesus’ commission to disciple.” The articles’ four keys are in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- RELEVANT TOPICS. I believe there is a time and a place for starting with a relevant topic and moving to God’s Word to see what the Bible has to say. I would, however, hesitate to recommend a steady diet of topical Bible study because of likelihood of an unbalanced approach to God’s Word (favoring some passages rather than a more holistic approach). On the other hand, I believe every biblical passage has application to life today. And it is the teacher’s responsibility to determine how the truth of God’s Word connects to the learners, to determine how to invite learners to respond. Then, every class time becomes relevant. And that relevance is an attractive quality. Learners will naturally talk about the class and share about and invite others to the class.
- PROPER TRAINING. Many teachers have never been discipled. Perhaps they have heard hundreds of lessons and sermons, but they have never been taught how to study God’s Word, how to prepare to teach, or even how to lead a group of learners to meet God in Bible study. They need training. Job descriptions help in raising expectations and encouraging accountability. They need coaches (pastors and directors) who will support and guide them toward greater effectiveness. Teacher, where do you need help? Pastor/director, where do you need to start?
- ONGOING EVALUATION. All journeys toward effectiveness begin at the starting line of evaluation. Measure yourself and your circumstances. What is going well in your class? What is going well in your teaching? Where is improvement needed? What could be done differenty or better next time? Invite attenders to help you evaluate the class and to take steps forward. Ask lots of questions. The article mentioned above offers several good ones. How could your class woo more adults? What would make the class and class time more attractive?
- CONCENTRATED PRAYER. Prayer is powerful. Pray for the class. Pray for relationships. Pray for the teacher. Pray for class leaders. Pray for the lesson. Pray for the truth to be applied to lives. Pray for lives to change as a result of encountering God in His Word. Pray for guests who will attend. Pray for invitations to be extended. Pray for goals to be reached. Pray for new people to enroll. Pray that Satan would be bound. Ask God to bless and use the class. Ask God to move in lives. Ask God to shine through attenders in such a way that He draws people to Him. Pray in class. Pray as prayer partners. Pray as care groups. Pray between classes. Call for special times of prayer. Believe when you pray. Believe in prayer. Believe. Pray.
Can you see how these four keys could enable your class to be even more attractive? Allow me to add two keys to the list:
- CORRECTLY HANDLING THE WORD OF TRUTH. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV). Seek an encounter with God before you guide learners on a journey to Him through His Word. Listen to Him personally before calling learners to do the same. Teach carefully. Remember, the warning: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (Jas 3:1, NIV). But also remember that God has said, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11, NIV). Seek every lesson to get out of the way and allow God to speak. When you do so, God will be honored. When you lift up Jesus, He will draw all men to himself (John 12:32).
- BEING AN INVITING CLASS. I mean this both ways. First, people like to be invited. So invite them. Invite them to come to your fellowship. Invite them to your class project. Invite them to your home. Invite them to your class. Second, be a class that is attractive. Have a solid fellowship. Work through all relationship problems. Love one another. Set up class greeters and care groups. Fellowship monthly. Employ an interactive teaching plan. Eat together. Have fun together. Share Jesus. Expect the class to love others into the class. Set goals for reaching out. Make contacts. Added with the above list, this key can enable you to woo adults into your class to stay.
Look over the six keys. Which is your strength? Which is your weakness? If you had to grade your class in each key on a scale of 1 is poor to 16 is great, how would each key fare? When you add your six scores together, was it above 75? If not, I’d challenge you to take steps to address one key in the next quarter. Take intentional steps in that area before addressing others–or you may make no progress at all. Give your best to God. He deserves no less. Be revolutionary!