Author Archive for Jeff Ingram

The Front Porch (What To Do On A Home Visit)

Don’t give up on the home visit just yet! Many church leaders today think visiting prospects and inactive members simply does not work anymore. This may be true in some situations like gated communities and some apartment complexes. Perhaps front porch visitors these days are not always invited in for coffee and cake, but some meaningful conversations can still take place.

For one thing, knocking on someone’s front porch door is a way of showing the person/family that you care enough to go to the trouble of driving to their home and checking on them. It’s more personal than a phone call, text, email, card or letter. Eye contact is a good thing.

Maybe the goal of a front porch visit should be to simply show you care – your Sunday School class, Small Group, or church – is interested in you and your family. It’s always a good idea to leave a Bible study or devotional book or magazine, with their name typed on a mailing label stuck on the cover.

My church recently sent me and two others to go door-to-door, telling people we were praying for their neighborhood and how we could pray for them. It went like this: first house, serious illness for grandchild; second, lady going through a divorce; third, lady taking care of her husband with dementia; fourth, single mom dealing with rebellious daughter; and last, a lady taking care of her sister recovering from surgery.

There are many needs and hurts behind those front door porches. Most will never be addressed without the front porch home visit.

Jeff Ingram is the Adult Ministry Strategist for Louisiana Baptists.

Why Your Group Needs a Gospel Champion

One of the great things about Sunday School is that it meets week after week, month after month, years after year, decade after decade. Of course, this is good because our witness and ministry will not end until Jesus returns. However, one of the bad things about Sunday School is that it meets week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade; and we fall into some bad practices and habits. Probably no area that’s neglected more is the evangelism component of a class or group.

There was a time in the not too distant past, that Sunday School was known as the “evangelistic arm” of the church. Many churches and classes realized that if they could get the lost enrolled and attending regularly they were much more likely to make a commitment to Christ, as well as be assimilated into the life of the church and class.

However, today, most adult classes and groups have become primarily a gathering for Bible study and fellowship. Of course, no one’s opposed to these tasks. But prioritizing fellowship and Bible study can lead to a class/group becoming inwardly focused. Why invite the unchurched and lost to come? The perception is that it’ll hurt the fellowship of the class.

Every class/group needs at least one gospel champion. If it’s not the teacher, then the teacher, as the leader of the group, needs to enlist an evangelism/outreach person who will model and motivate the group to not neglect the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20.

Jeff Ingram is the Adult Ministry Strategist at Louisiana Baptists.

Re-establishing Outreach as Part of Sunday School

outreach

I wonder sometimes if anyone does outreach anymore. Many Sunday Schools, Small groups, and churches do not seem to place much priority on visitation, contacts, follow-up, and outreach in general. Research continues to reveal that most churches (and their SS, SG) are plateaued or declining in their enrollment, attendance, and baptisms. Could it be, at least partially, because churches have stopped doing outreach?
I visit a lot of churches and always enjoy picking up a copy of and reading through their Sunday bulletin or worship guide. It seems I rarely see any calendared event or announcement of a church wide evangelistic visitation. Some trends I’ve seen that may contribute to this dilemma:

  1. Adult Sunday School and Small Groups have become primarily a Bible study and fellowship. Now I’m not against either, but if we stop inviting prospects and unchurched people to our classes and groups then the focus becomes inward.
  2. Also, if adult SS and SG begin to focus inwardly, then there is no need to start new classes and groups; nor is there a need to encourage members to leave and teach in other age-groups. To do so would disrupt one’s Bible study and fellowship.
  3. Follow-up of prospects and inactive members is not a priority. Events like, Vacation Bible School, Harvest Parties, Easter Egg Hunts, often provide names of children and parents who are not involved in a church. Worship service guests are often asked for contact information in the form of guests cards. Unfortunately, little is done with these names to connect and assimilate them into the ministries of the church.
  4. There seems to be a mindset today that visitation no longer works. The argument goes that people are busy and don’t want to be contacted and bothered.

I believe some of the most influential persons in the church are the adult Sunday School
or Small Group teachers. They have tremendous influence over the adults entrusted to their care, as well as the purpose and direction of their class or group. How can an adult SS/SG teacher influence the above challenges facing the church today?

  1. Lead your class/group to be outwardly focused. Do mission projects through your class/group.
  2. Strongly encourage individuals in your class/group to serve in other areas and to start new classes and groups. Lead your class to fulfill the Great Commission through making disciples!
  3. Reconnect with inactive members. Follow-up with prospects until they are followers of Christ, assimilated into the church, and learning to serve others.
  4. Times have changed and will continue to change dramatically. However, the personal touch is still a human need in our high-tech, impersonal world. People still want and need friends.

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” –Matthew 9 (NKJV)

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Jeff Ingram – Jeff is the adult ministry strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention