I have talked about Sunday School enrollment here before in my blog entries for August 15 and November 12 and linked to several great articles. And this week I have just finished a writing assignment addressing the question “How do I encourage my leaders and members to enroll people anywhere anytime?” It will appear in a new How to Sunday School Manual soon to be released by LifeWay. I am posting it here now for early and easy access. See it below. And be sure to explore the bibliography resources for the fuller details of the “where” and “how” of enrolling people in Sunday School that I didn't address due to space constraints.
Until next time…share the journey and enjoy the ride!
How do I encourage my leaders and members to enroll people anywhere anytime?
by Pat Ford
Any understanding of how to encourage leaders and members to enroll people anywhere anytime must first begin with an understanding of the important value of enrollment and a passion to reach new people.
There was a time when Sunday School enrollment was thought to be the most important statistic in the church because it was considered to be the driving factor in growing other important facets of church life and ministry.(1) Unfortunately, over time churches have stopped emphasizing enrollment and as a result have lost a significant tool to help them Invite, Discover, and Connect with people today.(2)
However, enrollment is still important! Historically, there has been a direct correlation between Sunday School enrollment and attendance. When enrollment goes up, attendance goes up; when enrollment goes down, attendance goes down.(3) Therefore, enrollment still remains a key factor for Sunday Schools enlarging, enhancing, and enriching their ability to Invite, Discover, and Connect!
Enrollment also helps us focus on our mandate for reaching new people as well as helps us build and express a passion for doing so. As we prayerfully seek to reach new people we must make it as easy as possible by enrolling people anywhere anytime with nothing required except a simple “yes” when asked. Such an enrollment approach becomes a strong expression of interest and concern saying to people that we want them to be a part of us.(4) You can not replace the power of personal invitation and intentional enrollment as the twin keys to success in reaching and assimilating new people.(5)
Help with the “where” and “how” of enrolling people in Sunday School can be found in the resources listed in the bibliography below, but here are some recommendations for you specifically on the question, “How do I encourage my leaders and members to enroll people anywhere anytime?”
Be Purposeful - Keep your Sunday School focused on its purpose. As you lead the work of your Sunday School keep a clear focus on your purpose, communicating it often with clarity and conviction. In leadership team meetings and in personal conversations make your purpose a priority talking point, including the need to reach new people and enroll them in Sunday School.
Be People Focused - Keep the focus on people. In all that you do keep a focus on people and not on numbers. Others will easily see your focus and follow. They will be motivated to add new people to their enrollment rather than “clean their rolls” in order to make their attendance to enrollment percentages look better numerically. People get far more spiritually motivated when they develop a vision and deep passion for reaching people than being motivated by achieving larger numbers.
Be A Personal Example - Personal example remains a powerful leadership strategy. So, personally model a passion for and practice of enrolling new people. Others will do more of what you “do” than what you “say”! Actively demonstrate in your speech and actions a passion for reaching new people and enrolling them in Sunday School. People will “catch” your example with time.
Be Persistent - Never stop talking about enrollment. About the time you get tired of talking about enrollment others will just begin to notice. So, never stop talking about and emphasizing the importance of enrollment. Your persistence will prevail if you persevere!
Be Prayerful - Continually pray privately and publicly about reaching and enrolling new people. Nothing communicates a person’s passion and priorities as does their prayer life. So, pray for the reaching of new people and enrolling them in Sunday School. When you are in private and when you are in public, be prayerful. You might just be amazed how God begins to change the hearts of others around you, encouraging them to begin enrolling people anywhere anytime!
A Final Word - You must “inspect” anything you “expect”. So, look for and celebrate those individuals or groups who are doing good work and publicly tell their story. Your recognition will be further encouragement for them. And others will be encouraged and motivated by their good example and your public affirmation.
1. The Growth Spiral, pg 35
2. Towns’ Sunday School Encyclopedia, pg 200
3. The 3D Sunday School, pg 10
4. Ten Best Practices to Make Your Sunday School Work, pg 159
5. Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur, pg 118
Essentials for Excellence: Connecting Sunday School to Life by Alan Raughton and Louis B. Hanks. LifeWay Press. Nashville, Tennessee. 2003.
I-6: A Six Lane Strategy Toward an Inviting Sunday School by David Francis. LifeWay Press. Nashville, Tennessee. 2007.
Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur: A Sunday School Growth Strategy for the 21st Century by Ken Hemphill. Broadman and Holman Publishers. Nashville, Tennessee. 1996.
Ten Best Practices to Make Your Sunday School Work by Ken Hemphill and Bill Taylor. LifeWay Press. Nashville, Tennessee. 2001.
The 3D Sunday School: A Three Dimensional Strategy to Help Members and Leaders Fulfill the Great Commission by David Francis. LifeWay Press. Nashville, Tennessee. 2006.
The Growth Spiral: The Proven Step-by-Step Method for Calculating and Predicting Growth Potential in Your Church by Andy Anderson. Broadman and Holman Publishers. Nashville, Tennessee. 1993.
Towns’ Sunday School Encyclopedia: A Practical Guide for Sunday School Workers by Elmer Towns. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois. 1993.