24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)
One of the challenges we face today in Bible study/Sunday School is regular attendance. With the cultural shifts of time and competition for time, we have to be more diligent in caring for and providing opportunities for Bible study. Albert Winseman in his book, Growing an Engaged Church states that people will be more actively engaged in your church if these four statements are true in their lives:
1. My Needs Are Being Met
2. I Am Able To Contribute Something Significant
3. I Feel Like I Belong
4. I Know That I Am Growing, and that the Church Is Moving in the Right Direction
Here are a few tips that will lead to more active members:
1. Set up care groups in your class. This is an important step to stay in touch with members’ needs and remind them about the importance of Bible study. As I have shared in the past, Sunday School (like gardening) is as much about nourishing and cultivating the soil as it is planting seeds. Each class should have care group leaders who are responsible to stay in touch with four or five members of the class and a prospect. (E-mail me at email@example.com and I will send you an organizational document for care groups along with ideas for making contacts for your care group leaders.)
2. Call/Contact members on a weekly basis. Neil Jackson recommended many years ago a Saturday evening one minute phone call. Basically the teacher would call each member of the class on Saturday and say, “I am finishing my preparation for tomorrow and just wanted to see if there is anything I can be praying with you about.” After they share, pray with them and then say, “I hope to see you tomorrow for Bible study.” Again this shows care for the members, shows the importance of prayer and is a reminder about Bible study. You may choose to use e-mail, texting and Facebook messages as well for some weeks.
3. Provide Bible study at other times than Sunday morning. I have talked about this some before. We have on average 20-40% of the population that works on Sunday or has a child on a travel team of some sport. Get one of your outgoing class members the permission to miss Sunday School one Sunday morning and visit people who work in grocery stores, fire department, police department, gas stations, hospitals…etc. and ask if they are interested in a Bible study and when are the best times. You may discover the opportunity to have a Bible study at their location at another time. Have a parent of a travel team offer to teach a Bible study with the parents of the team while they are away.
4. Provide opportunities to serve and build community outside of class. People who feel like they have something to contribute outside of class and feel that they belong are more actively engaged with the class. Every class should have an ongoing service project and a social event at least once a quarter to build community and provide opportunities for service.
Let me know creative ways you are helping your members remain active and serving.