Author Archive for Bob Mayfield

Inviting Lost People to Your Group

A pastor correctly said, “Lost people matter to God. They should also matter to us.” In Luke 19:10, Jesus states, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.” Inviting lost people to our group is a natural progression in our relationship with Christ. The closer we relate and imitate Jesus, the more compassion we will have for people who do not yet know Him as their Savior and Lord.

Inviting a lost friend or acquaintance to our small group can sometimes be an unsettling experience. All sorts of questions come to mind:

  • What if my friend doesn’t like my group?
  • Or even worse – what if my group doesn’t like my friend!
  • What if our group leader says something that might hurt my friend’s feelings?

I want to encourage you not to worry about the “what ifs” of inviting someone to your group. The chances are your friend already knows that you belong to a small group. In fact, they may be wondering why you haven’t invited them to come with you to your group!

Here are a few simple suggestions that may help…

  • Be intentional. Sorry, but inviting someone to your small group is not going to accidentally slip into the conversation. I enjoy fishing and hunting, but inviting someone to go hunting with me has never happened by accident. It is always intentional.
  • Be cordial. “Hey Larry, you know I have been intending to do this but sometimes it slips my mind. I would love for you to be my guest at our small group this Sunday if you don’t already have something planned.”
  • Be prepared. Your group should be ready for guests. Get in the habit of wearing nametags. Sit in a circle. Have extra Bibles available for guests. Never call on a guest to read, pray, or answer a question.

The simplest things can go a long way to easing any discomfort you might have about inviting a friend to your group. But one thing is certain…

They will not come if we do not ask.

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Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School/Discipleship specialist at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob also has his own blog at bobmayfield.com.
Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobmayfield and on Facebook at facebook.com/thebobmayfield

Leading Group Members to Build Relationships

I was teaching a class about Sunday School to a group of ministry students at Oklahoma Baptist University when we began discussing curriculum. Holding a couple of curriculum pieces in my hand, I read the titles to students and asked which curriculum piece appealed to them the best. I was trying to make a point of not judging any curriculum by the fancy artwork on the cover when a student responded, “I like the one on the left”. He explained that he preferred that piece because it used the term “group study”. He went on to explain that…

A class is something you attend,
but a group is something you belong to.

Bingo!!

People today want to belong. As the leader of your Bible study group, you need to make sure that you have a plan to help people move from attending to belonging. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Fellowship monthly. People need time apart from the normal Bible study to eat together, talk, and get to know others in a less structured atmosphere.
  • Use nametags. David Francis has communicated the importance of nametags. People want to be called by their name, not “hey you” or “how about you in the red shirt”.
  • Use smaller groups to engage group members in Bible study. Smaller groups help engage people who are less outspoken than others.
  • Have a greeter at the door to the room. Greet everyone. If someone new attends, the greeter introduces them to others and gets a conversation started.
  • Make phone calls. Develop a plan that includes other people in the group as leaders, and call every group member frequently.
  • Occasionally break into groups of four when it is prayer time. Give each person an index card and ask them to write their name and 2-3 prayer requests on the card. Hand the card to the person beside them and each person prays for the person and requests on the card.

 

Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School/Discipleship specialist at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob also has his own blog at bobmayfield.com.
Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobmayfield and on Facebook at facebook.com/thebobmayfield

 

5 Ways to Get Your Sunday School Ready for Great Ministry This Fall

Summer is in full swing and many church members are away on vacation, mission trips, and camps. However, now is time to get your Sunday School and Small Group ready for the fall season of ministry. For many churches, August/September is the beginning of a new year of ministry. Here are some thoughts to use the summer wisely to prepare for a great season of ministry this fall, plus create less stress among your church members and leaders.

Here are five suggestions to help you prepare for a great fall for your group:

1. Get some training
Consider partnering with your state convention or local association for training opportunities. Or consider training your leaders at your own church. Also, an excellent tool for local church training is using the online training that may be available through your state convention or LifeWay. Most online training that you will find through your state convention is targeted directly for Sunday School and small group leaders. In Oklahoma, our ReConnect Sunday School website has almost 200 training videos are available.  As group leaders, we should always be improving our own skills as a leader so that we can better lead and minister to our group.

2. Spruce up your room
When you invite someone to your home for dinner, you are likely to do a little extra cleaning than normal. Use the same principle with your church building. So what does your Sunday School room look like? Could it use a fresh coat of paint? How clean are the floors? How about the furniture? What does the sign outside your room look like? And… how much out-of-date curriculum do you have piled up in a corner?

3. Enlist leaders to help you
You probably have a few leadership opportunities that need to be filled, plus some other important spots that need leaders. Begin the enlistment process as early as possible so that people do not feel pressured to take a leadership role at the last minute. Organize your group for ministry, fellowship, and outreach. Enlist someone to greet every person that walks into your room. Enlist one leader for every 5 people on your ministry roll. Delegate these leadership opportunities, because it is not your place to shoulder the all of the responsibilities of your group alone.

4. Start a new group (or two)
New groups provide room for new people. It is called the “Power of 10”, because every new group the church starts increases average attendance by about 10 people. Early fall is a great time to start a new group since many people view the new school year as a chance for a fresh start in a church as well.

5. Re-establish your group’s priorities
According to Hebrews 2:1, it is the natural state of humankind to “drift away”. Also, the longer people drift from the church’s primary mission, the more difficult it becomes to get them focused back on the church’s #1 priority, making disciples. Take the opportunity at every leadership meeting to re-visit the purpose and mission of your church’s small group strategy. A consistent reminder of the purpose of your church’s groups will help prevent mission-drift.

6. Contact everyone that is a member of your group (I know I said five, but this is a bonus idea)
As stated above, people tend to drift away over time. Life gets busy and things happen. But when it comes to church in general, and Sunday School/small group in particular; busy-ness or lifechanges can become personal fast. From my experience, I have discovered that if a group members misses six meetings in a row, it is very difficult to get them to come back to the group. So make an all-out effort this August to contact every member of your group (not just the attendees). The longer the group waits to reach out to absentees, the more difficult and awkward it becomes.

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Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School/Small Group specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob also has his own blog at bobmayfield.com.

Twitter – @bobmayfield

Instagram – @rpmayfield or @reconnectss

Connect Short-term Events to Ongoing Sunday School

Why does your church offer events like: a men’s fish fry; a ladies retreat; or Vacation Bible School? Is it because church members have nothing else to do with their time?

Of course not! Churches offer evangelistic events so that church members can bring their lost friends to hear the Gospel and connect with the church.

But what could your church and Sunday School group do to make the connection even stronger? That’s right… connect guests at church events to the church’s Sunday School. Make it an intentional connection, not a connection that might happen accidentally. Intentionally connecting guests to a Sunday School group multiplies the evangelistic opportunity; plus it connects the guest with the very place that the church wants them to land in order to minister, evangelize, and disciple the guest – a Sunday School class!

Here are a couple of ideas on how to do that:

  1. Be sure to register everyone, including guests, at every church event. A name, address, email, and phone number provides a way for the Sunday School to follow up with a guest. You can not follow-up on people that you do not know.
  2. Encourage the event organizer to include a 2-3 minute testimony about Sunday School. Provide some coaching so that the person giving the testimony shares how Sunday School has affected him or her personally.
  3. Light the road from the event to the Sunday School. When does Sunday School start? Where do I go?
  4. Follow-up! The best time to invite a guest from the Men’s Fish Fry to your group is immediately! Yes, if you meet a guest at the fish fry, go ahead and invite him to your Sunday School class right then. Calling a guest 3 months after the fish fry communicates that you are not really very interested in him. The sooner you call or visit, the more likely it is that you will receive a positive response.

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Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School/Small Group specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob also has his own blog, as well as coordinating the BGCO’s online training site for Sunday School leaders, reconnectss.com.

How Many Lost People Should Be on My Roll?

Most Sunday School teachers want their group members to invite lost friends and neighbors to Sunday School. One of the best laboratories for Christianity is a Sunday School group, so it is natural that we would want lost people to join and participate in our group.

So how can a leader tell how effective their group is in inviting lost or unchurched friends to the group?

The simplest answer to how many lost people should be in your group is… as many as possible!

But practically speaking, about 12% would be a good target. So for a group with 25 group members, about 3-4 lost people would be the minimum in order for your group to consider itself an evangelistically engaged group.

Some ideas on encouraging group members to invite their friends to join your group:

  • Have 2-4 fellowships a year that are intentionally designed for lost people. That means, have a fellowship (social, party, etc) that a lost person would like to attend. Have a shrimp fry. Plan a barbecue rib party. The guys can have a night at the ballpark and invite their lost friends.
  • Encourage people in your group to actually make the invite and ask a friend to come to the group Bible study. The best way to do this is to identify a specific date to invite friends (the date provides accountability); have brunch/finger foods/; enlist a group member or two to share their testimony; then study God’s Word; share a simple Gospel presentation; and pray together.
  • Bring a friend yourself. As the teacher, nothing communicates as well as your own actions.
  • When a guest visits your group, actually ask them to join. Fill out the guest card with them. Be sure to thank them for joining your group!!
  • Follow-up. Visit guests in their home. Ask for permission to add them to the group. Send them an invite to join the group’s Facebook page. In other words, treat the guest like a group member – and they will become one!

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Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School/Small Group specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob also has his own blog, as well as coordinating the BGCO’s online training site for Sunday School leaders, reconnectss.com.