I have written quite a bit about Sunday School and how Sunday School can help your church and grow your church. It can, it can increase your church attendance, make disciples, help your children’s ministry, your youth ministry, your young adult, median and senior adult ministries. Sunday School can do awesome things, but do you have a plan? You can do great things if you have a plan, an intentional plan that you can not only share, but communicate, execute and make work.
Let me give you an example. FAITH by Lifeway. I love the visitation that comes with FAITH. I am not too keen on the FAITH outline itself, but it’s a plan. You make groups of three people from your Sunday School classes and they go out and visit people. Do you have a plan that gets your people out and visiting those who are not yet connected in your church?
Let’s face reality, we know that most church members don’t share their faith. We have statistics and data and all sorts testimonials. There are lots of reasons, some are nervous, some unsure and some just don’t think it’s their place to tell others about Christ. Whatever the reason, we need to equip the saints for the work of the church, so how do we do that? Well, it starts with a plan. First, let’s think together of what the people need. So what do your people need? You should know, I don’t know your people, but I know what I have done with people in the past. Do you have a loving church? Of course you do, everyone says they have a loving church, so what makes your church loving? Are they good with kids? Do they do well at greeting people or being welcoming? Do they help people in need? Whatever your people have a gift for, start there, and then begin to add the essential ingredients.
First, a place to connect people. You all know I love Sunday School for this, because it takes care of so many issues, like meeting place, childcare (which is actually child teaching, not just care) and set time. Sunday School rocks at these things, but Small Group works well for a connecting spot. There is also Wednesday night activities, special events, holidays, and don’t forget celebrations. Check out Josh Hunt and his Give Your Friday Nights to Jesus. Whatever the place, Sunday School or a party, make this place ready and intentional to receive visitors.
Now we have to find a way to get the people there. The best way to invite people unconnected to your church is through people who are connected to the church. Let’s make a plan to find people in their lives that they can invite to come and visit. This part can be tricky, so offer things to make it fun. If you just say “invite your friends to Sunday School” they will say “ok” and forget. It happens, we all forget, so let’s do something. In the spring, do a Spring Training theme, make it fun, give away baseball stuff to remind them. Then they will hear about Spring Training and remember. Football season makes a great time, do some fantasy draft things. Be creative, equip the people.
Now you have a place, you have the invitations, what are you going to do if it actually works and people show up? Well, you better find a way to connect your people. Prepare your folks to receive the new folks by teaching them to do a few simple things. First, sharing stories. We all have a story, and there is always something new to share about God’s grace. People love to hear stories, so equip your Sunday School teachers and leaders to be prepared to share stories. Share stories yourself. Tell stories of God’s goodness and grace all you can. Tell everyone what God is doing for you. Pray and take prayer requests. Don’t ask the new folks to pray on their first visit and don’t pressure them for prayer requests, but give them an opportunity to share. Share answered prayers, share needs and share your lives with one another. Of course, you also need to be friendly and kind. It may go without saying, but it may not, so i’m saying it. Be nice. Offer them coffee or water or something. Be gracious.
The last thing, make sure you get some contact information and follow up. Send an email, a text, a note, a pigeon, whatever. Go by and say hi, take them to lunch or dinner or whatever. Make an effort to connect with them, let them know that you care (and do actually care). Invite them to come back, and if they don’t show up for a few weeks, call and check in. Make sure they feel like they are missed, that they belong, that you care about them. Make sure it’s not a desperate way, don’t act like a cult, but genuinely care about them.
I personally like Sunday School, teachers and outreach leaders in the classes to help members to take these steps. This has to be more than a program, it has to be a planned lifestyle of your church. I have been part of churches where this happened, it was real and intentional and it worked. People felt welcomed, they came to Sunday School, God touched their lives and many were saved and baptized. It’s a great thing when we see God at work, and it starts by doing the things He called us to do, to love people, to share with them and connect with them in love. Blessings my friends.