Archive for Enrollment

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.


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.


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

One out of Three

thirdWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Andy Anderson did Sunday School research and conferencing for the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay) in the 1970s. He made an important discovery in his research among small, medium, and large churches around the country–who were in a mix of rural, suburban, and city settings. He discovered that when 3 lost people were enrolled and active in Sunday School for a year, one out of the three would be saved.

Because that research was dated, over the last five years I  have asked Kentucky pastors how many lost people are saved in the first year of attending their classes. The consistent responses from over 100 pastors is 50-100%! Wow, we need to enroll and care for more lost people in Sunday School!

WHAT DO I DO? Lead your class to see, pursue, and include lost people. Lead your class to…

  1. Pray. Identify and pray for lost people in the age group for the class.
  2. Connect. Get to know lost people, especially those for whom they are praying.
  3. Invite. Include lost people in your invitations for fellowships, projects, meals, and group time.
  4. Enroll. Ask them if you may add them to your class care list.
  5. Care. Contact them, pray for them, fellowship with them, and meet their needs.
  6. Example. Talk about someone you are praying for, inviting, and working to enroll.

Lead the class to make a list of lost people to pray for and reach out to. Lead your class to take steps this month!

Emphasize Reaching People with Your Group

reachingWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? The first book that I ever read about Sunday School was Basic Sunday School Work.  The author wrote about the Six Tasks of Sunday School.  Task number one was to reach people for Bible study.  That’s right: Reaching People for Bible Study was the first task.  Teach People the Bible was the second task. Many churches are plateaued and declining because the classes and groups are ignoring the first task of Sunday School.  We must get outreach and evangelism back into Sunday School.

WHAT DO I DO? Here are three practical ideas to emphasize reaching people with your group:

Challenge your members to…

  1. Pray for three lost People
  2. Learn a Gospel Presentation
  3. Invite five unchurched People to the group
  4. Share the Gospel at least one time each month

Challenge your group to…

  1. Enroll three New Members this year
  2. Conduct regular fellowships (invite every member and every prospect)
  3. Plan two Missions Activities in the Community
  4. Sponsor an Evangelistic Bible Study in the Community where lost people live and work
  5. Adopt a People Group
  6. Adopt a Harvest Field in your community, such as a school, subdivision, factory.

Conduct an Evangelistic Activity every time the group meets, such as:

  1. Have a member share their story
  2. Pray for lost people (have an evangelistic prayer list)
  3. Plan an outreach event
  4. Teach the Gospel
  5. Practice a Gospel presentation
  6. Memorize an evangelistic verse
  7. Model sharing the Gospel

Just in case you are curious.  The other tasks were witness to persons about Christ and lead them into church membership, minister to persons in need, lead members to worship, and interpret and undergird the work of the church and the denomination.

Anytime, Anywhere

carecardWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? When we enroll people in Sunday School and provide consistent care for them through the class, about half of them will attend during group time (40% in larger churches and 60% in smaller churches). To increase class attendance, we need to increase our enrollment AND our care. And everyone needs to be part of the effort!

Without an emphasis on enrolling new people, classes will not grow and fewer people will be reached. Your leadership and example matter.

WHAT DO I DO? Enroll people anytime, anywhere. How? Consider these ideas:

  • Training. Teach your class about the value and benefits of enrollment. Help them to consider doing so on regular life paths throughout the week.
  • Terms. Change your conversation from enrolling people to adding people to your class care list.
  • Prayer. Spend time praying together about reaching new class members.
  • Goal. Together set a goal for the number of new class members you want to add this year.
  • Plans. Make plans for how to invite, reach, and care for new members.
  • Challenge. Print simple class care list invitations. Regularly give them to your class to share with friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors.
  • Fellowships. Invite people to fellowships, projects, and meals. Ask if you can add them to your class care list.
  • Evaluate. Take time often to talk about progress on your goal and plans.
  • Communicate. Remind frequently.

There are tons more ideas for enrolling anytime, anywhere. Press Comments and share your ideas.