Archive for Ministry

100 Small Changes Later…

100hashtag At the beginning of this series, David Francis introduced our blog to what would be 100 daily posts that provoke conversations about little things all of us can do to make our groups better.  These were not game changers or radical transformations of teaching methods.  These were small changes that could lead to minor course corrections in the direction of your group.  Most of them were not new ideas but simply reminders of things that need to be done.

We want to reflect back to the first post in this series, David Francis’ introductory article on August 1 of this year.

Sunday School is a system. It’s a bunch of things—big and small—that make a Sunday School excellent instead of mediocre.  Each relates to another and that to another and so on and so on. So what if every little thing you improved resulted in just one more person coming to Sunday School, coming back to Sunday School, enrolling in Sunday School, attending regularly in Sunday School, serving in Sunday School, and inviting another to Sunday School? Each of the 100 ideas you’ll read about in the next several weeks may seem inconsequential taken alone. But put 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 into practice and see what happens!

So, here we are.  100 articles later.  You now have 100 ideas from which you can draw for solutions to little roadblocks you may face while leading your group. Come back to this site often and refer back to these posts when you seeking answers.  We are here for you and will continue to be here with fresh insight and ideas to strengthen your group ministry.

The contributors of this blog will continue to add posts–only not as frequently as every day.  When a good idea comes to mind, we will share it here with you, the leaders of the movement.  Stay connected with us on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you for joining us on this journey of discovery. Keep making #SmallChanges that will grow your groups and help make disciples.

3 Ways to Deploy Group Members in Ministry

care4otherWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? The writer of Hebrews (10:24-25) reminds us that we gather to “spur one another on towards love” and to “encourage one another.” Jesus says that His disciples are recognized by their love of one another (John 13:35). If your group does not minister effectively to one another and show love one to another, then it will quickly fall apart.

WHAT DO I DO?

  1. Inside the Group. Each group should set up smaller groups within the group for prayer and ministry. The smaller the sub group (3-5) the better. These groups can be informal, put together on the spot, or formal, an ongoing group. They should meet for approximately 10 minutes to share prayer needs and pray. The smaller group will make this a more intimate time and curtail needless travelogue in prayer requests. If you form groups on the spot, you will be able to better include and get to know guests. As the teacher/leader you may want the guests in your group.
  2. Through the Group. Each Group should have a Care or Ministry Leader(s) who presents the ministry opportunities discovered through prayer groups and contacts. This should not be a lengthy recital of prayer needs, but a presentation of ministry opportunities and making assignments. It should include assigning individuals to contact a group member who is absent and organizing the group to take appropriate ministry actions for group members who are hurting (sick, unemployed, hospitalized, etc.).
  3. Beyond the Group. Encourage group members to become aware of ministry opportunities to unreached people in their relational networks. Organize members, as appropriate, to perform acts of kindness to spread Christ’s love beyond the group. Share stories of ministry that takes place and makes positive impact.

Many groups already have a system of Care Ministry and Prayer Ministry. This is commendable! However, many groups spend more time in prayer requests rather than in prayer and in discussing ministry needs rather than assigning ministry action. If this is the case for you, it may be time to recalibrate your groups and refocus them on ‘why’ they should minister to the group.

How Can I Encourage Class Member Faithfulness?

care4familyWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Dr. Thom Rainer and others have reported that one of the largest influences on the drop in average Sunday School attendance is the irregularity of class members. Absence makes disciple-making efforts more challenging. It impacts children and teens by making them believe that following Jesus and church involvement are optional. It can reduce relational connections and make dropping out more likely.

WHAT DO I DO? How can we intentionally encourage member faithfulness? Here are several ideas:

  • follow up every time persons are absent;
  • when they miss, express your genuine care and that they were missed;
  • ask key members to invest in those whose attendance patterns are declining;
  • contact, pray together, and remind them of the next fellowship/project;
  • plan regular class fellowships and ensure absentees get written and phone invitations;
  • plan outreach and ministry projects where participants can get to know one another while meeting needs;
  • give every member a class responsibility;
  • develop prayer partners (maybe regular with absentee) who pray together weekly by phone;
  • communicate how upcoming lessons will help them to live out their Christian lives in the world;
  • explain the benefits of regular attendance for themselves and their children;
  • have an attendance and/or contact contest with another class during a quarter;
  • use lesson icebreakers to help members get to know one another in fresh ways (for affinity discovery); and
  • divide the group during the Bible study into small groups (3-5 persons) for discussion.

Pray. Care. Contact. Listen. Help. Never give up. Never!

Contact Absentees Without Producing Guilt

ListenWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? When a class member is absent for three weeks, absence becomes a habit. Absentees often begin to feel guilty about not attending. Attending members also begin to feel guilty about not reaching out. Caring relationships work to avoid that happening.

WHAT DO I DO? Because you care, reach out immediately after each absence. Make a contact–the more personal the better. In other words, make a visit or a call. Express your care, even if the member has been on vacation. How can we do so without producing guilt? Consider the following:

  • say hello at the door (or by phone)
  • say that you just wanted him/her to know you missed him/her in class
  • remind him/her about upcoming plans for a fellowship or project
  • if there was a previous prayer request, ask for an update (write it down)
  • ask how you can pray for him/her and the family
  • pray together
  • as you part, say that you look forward to being in class together.

If the person has been absent for several weeks, extend the visit for a few extra minutes. Attempt to discover a need the class could meet. Ask the absentee if you can pick them up for the fellowship or project. Talk about recent class activities. Share your Sunday School testimony (see Sunday School Testimony: Powerful Revolutionary Tool for more details). Talk about the current lesson series.

The bottom line is CARE. Contact with care because you do and no one will have guilt!

Together

TogetherIf your church body took the form of a human body, how healthy would it be? Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 both talk about how we as a “body of believers” should function and work together as one. There is one head – Jesus. There are lots of parts, but one body.

If I were to be honest, even my church (and I do love my church) would resemble a zombie more than a healthy functioning human being. Why is that? Maybe it’s because sometimes Jesus is not the head of our “body of believers.” Maybe there are too many people that are not doing their part. Maybe we just have too many jobs that people feel that somebody else can do the job better. Whatever the reason, we have a problem church!

One of the reasons I love Sunday School is because each class is unique. The church may not function the way it should, but sometimes a class does. If at least one Sunday School class is healthy and functioning, it can drastically improve the chances of God doing something incredible in that church and community. That is the Power of One.

Together there is so much more we can do than one person can do alone. 9 Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (HCSB)

Don’t rob others of the opportunity to be a part of God’s great work in your church and community. Get as many people involved as possible. We weren’t meant to do it alone.

Your Sunday School class could be a healthy, functioning example of a body of Christ. My advice is to pay attention to the head of the body – Jesus Christ. Then, seek to involve and engage as many people as possible in fulfilling the Great Commission.

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Sean Keith is the Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Website: www.revseankeith.com; Twitter: @revseankeith.