Author Archive for Sean Keith

Gone in 60 Seconds: Divine Appointments

There you are, minding your own business and God prompts you with an opportunity to have a spiritual conversation with someone. What are you going to do? Well, you can just ignore it. Or maybe, you don’t know what to say.

When sharing with someone at the checkout counter or in line somewhere, you only have seconds to make an impression and engage someone in a Gospel conversation. How do you maximize those brief moments?

Once I was dropping off some clothes at the cleaners when the person behind the counter asked me what my FAITH ministry shirt meant. So I shared the Gospel. Often times, as in this case, people don’t make a decision for Christ but my job for that day may have been to plant a seed.

Every encounter is a divine appointment – Every time we interact with people is an opportunity to BE the presence of Christ. Your smile, your kind actions, your graciousness are all bridges to a Gospel conversation.

Don’t be shy about a verbal witness – Make it a practice to engage people everywhere and take the opportunities to say things like; God bless you or have a blessed day. You will never know what God can do with that.

One minute testimony – learn how to share your testimony in less than 60 seconds.

One minute Gospel – learn how to share the Gospel in less than a minute.

You pass by lost people all day long. Listen for the voice of God. Maybe He is telling you, “There is someone who needs me today. I’m sending you.”

Sean Keith is the Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Sean has free resources available at www.louisianabaptists.org/churchgrowth and www.revseankeith.com. Follow Sean on Twitter @revseankeith.

Gospel Conversations With Lost People

Why is it so hard to have a conversation with a lost person about the Gospel? Honestly, it’s never easy. Please know this, God wants you to tell others your story. He wants others to hear how He changed your life so that they can know how to experience that same kind of relationship with the Almighty God. Let’s take a look at some of the dynamics at work when we share the Gospel.

There is a Spiritual Battle – In the spiritual realm, there is a battle raging for the soul of mankind. Satan wants to keep as many souls as possible out of Heaven. At the same time, God continues to direct our lives into divine encounters that draw others to Himself in an eternal relationship with Him. We may not see the battle that rages for the souls of those we encounter; but know it is always there. (Ephesians 6:12)

It’s your words, but God’s message – We get hung up on saying the “right” thing, knowing the “right” words. God is already at work in your heart and mind. God is also at work in the heart and mind of the person you are sharing with. They are hearing the Gospel even if our words are not as “perfect” as we would like them to be. Attending classes and training seminars on how to share your faith is important. Don’t, however, overlook the work that the Spirit of God is doing in our lives and in the lives of those we share with.

Just Share – I have had the privilege of training lots of people in sharing their faith. On every visit, I encourage those with me to take a leap of faith and just try. When it is all over, I almost always hear these words, “thanks for giving me the opportunity to share”.

You need someone to go with you? Get someone. You need to practice? Find someone. You want to learn how to share your faith? Just do it!

Sean Keith is the Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Sean has free resources available at www.louisianabaptists.org/churchgrowth and www.revseankeith.com. Follow Sean on Twitter @revseankeith.

Three Mistakes Many Small Group Leaders Make

Most leaders don’t intentionally ignore inactive members of our group/class, lack focus on people who are not a part of our group or don’t pay attention to the life needs of the regular members of our class, but sometimes we do.

Inactive Members – Some people join our group or class and fail for whatever reason to connect with the rest of the members. Some people might even get mad at someone in the group and just quit coming. Others might simply miss a few weeks and just decide it’s easier to stay home than take the time to go to Sunday School or Small Group. Regardless of the reason, God has still place these people in our ministry field and thus in our sphere of influence.

Non Members – You do realize that there are people in your church and outside of your church that are potential future members, right? We don’t mean to forget about them but sometimes we get so busy doing other things that we “get out of the habit” of paying attention to those who aren’t part of us yet. After a while, we just get comfortable and stop worrying about it all together. Besides, they know where our church is. If they want to be a part, they can just show up.

Regular Members – These are the people that show up. Most of the time, these are the people who participate in Bible study, activities, fellowships, ministry projects, etc. But what if there were some serious issues in their lives like a marriage falling apart, addictions, depression, anger, lost a job or more. Often times, in the midst of our business we miss the subtle clues that somethings not quite right at home.

All of these things have one thing in common—It’s people. God has called us as leaders to lead a ministry with, through and to PEOPLE. We need to stop focusing so much on what has to be done and start focusing more on those people. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Inactive Members – Chances are that an inactive member will most likely not come back to your class. Instead focus on ministering to them through prayer and regular contact just to let them know you still care. Who knows, maybe they might come back.
  2. Non Members – Most Sunday School classes and Small Groups don’t have a prospect list. Why not start one. Every week just ask, who do you know that might be a potential member of our class? Put their name on your list and pray for them every week. Who knows, they might just come if you invite them.
  3. Regular Members – Take time to get to know each other. Don’t worry about finishing every bible study lesson. Take the time to share with one another in groups of 2 or 3 people. Plan fellowships that allow time for people to share personal prayer needs in really small groups so they don’t have to share such personal needs in front of the whole group. Who know, you might just prevent a divorce, help a person through addiction, depression or anger or help someone find a new job.

Sunday School  and Small Groups are about people. Let’s make them our primary focus.

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Sean Keith is the Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention

Numbers Don’t Lie

Every year, I receive an Annual Church Profile Statistical Information Booklet. This little booklet illustrates the results of the work of our churches throughout Louisiana. The numbers I am drawn to relate to Sunday School and Discipleship Attendance and Enrollment. These numbers are not a “complete” picture of what is going on in our churches throughout the state, but they do show us some trends.

Enrollment is Down – There are fewer people enrolled in Sunday School or Small Groups now than there were 10 years ago. Actually, the trend is much longer than that. Enrollment can best be illustrated as our “ministry field”. Every week, our class or group has the opportunity to minister to a specific number of people; some of those actually show up each week. Every year, with some exceptions noted, our trend is that there are fewer and fewer people in our “ministry field”. At a time when our population grows, we are having an impact on fewer numbers of people’s lives.

Attendance is Down – With a shrinking “ministry field” comes fewer people attending each week. In case you haven’t noticed, classes/groups will average between 40-60% of its enrollment. It is increasingly harder and harder to get church members to not only join a small group or Sunday School class; it is also harder to get them to attend regularly.

The Good News – On the flip side of those numbers is the fact that more and more people value biblical community and want to learn and grow spiritually. People want to “belong”. Connecting new people and lost people to a small group or Sunday School class is one of the most difficult challenges our churches face today. And yet, there are lots and lots of people who wish to experience that on a regular basis.

What do I do? – Start small. The first thing you should decide is to focus more on people than your role or your responsibilities. The object of our ministry is to connect people with God and His people. We all want and need family. Being a part of a family takes a lot of time and hard work. Focus on things that matter the most; prioritize.

PRAY and OBEY – The most important thing you can do right now is to stop and pray that God would reveal to you as a leader how you can reach more people, love more people and disciple more people. He is waiting to lead you in the right direction. BUT, He is waiting on you to actually do what He asks you to do.

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (HCSB) Numbers don’t lie. When we are faithful to plant, water and tend to all the things God asks us to do; then, when He is ready—He will give the increase.

Want to see your ministry field expand? Want to see more people regularly engaged in bible study and ministry? Pray! Obey! And SEE God do great and mighty things.

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Sean Keith is the Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention

Finding Them and Keeping Them

searchWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? In a recent blog post by Thom Rainer, he identified the single most significant factor that causes decline in church membership and attendance. Do you know what it is? It is an inward focus. When all of your attention is on keeping one another happy and satisfied, your class or group will decline. How do you continue to focus on the needs of the group but also focus outwardly on the people in your community? Is it possible to have both? The answer is YES, but it takes leadership.

WHAT DO I DO? During an average week, how much time is spent focused on meeting the needs of the group? Now, how much time and energy is your class or group focused on those in your community who are not YET part of your group? Might I make a few suggestions of how to begin to focus outwardly?

  • Pray weekly for the lost (by name) in your community and their needs.
  • Pray for and plan for opportunities to connect with prospects or conduct a project in the community to meet ministry needs.
  • Be intentional about connecting relationally with the unchurched and or lost in your own neighborhoods.
  • Regularly invite people you connect with who are outside your group to your weekly time of Bible study, prayer and ministry.

These are just a few ideas of how to begin to focus outwardly in your community. Oddly enough, when you do that, you just might discover you are growing closer together as a group as well.