Give Your Sunday School a Boost

Does your Sunday School seem flat? Does it seem like nothing exciting or new is happening in your Sunday School class? I know, every once in awhile your class will have a guest but is it growing? When was the last time you had a new member? How many have you lost because they moved, stopped coming or died?

Sunday School is not broke. Don’t blame the program because you stopped doing the things you know you should be doing. When we ignore problems or simply stop doing the things we know we should do; the result is a flat, declining, low energy class. Sunday School is about people, focused on studying God’s Word together and focused on making a difference in our everyday world that we live in. When we stop doing any of those three things, our class can go flat.

Here are three things you can do that will get your class moving again.

Enroll Someone New – Invite people to come to your class or small group. Offer to enroll them as a member of your group. Don’t just enroll them. Commit to weekly stay in touch with them, care for them and meet their needs. Not everyone you invite will come but I am certain that people will not come unless you invite them. For more help, click here.

Start a New Group or Class – Sometimes existing groups cannot or will not change. When that happens, you have to start fresh with a new group of people. Find 3 or 4 people and create a list of “potential” members of the new class and go after them. Oh, and by the way, it will not be easy. It will take a lot of work. It is exciting to start a new group. It produces a lot of energy and momentum for your class and your church. For more help, click here.

Plan a Fellowship, Bible Study or Ministry Project – Sometimes we need to get together and just have fun together. Some folks like to do a bible study on a specific topic and just visit with each other. Others would rather plan a time to do a special project and meet a specific need in the community. It doesn’t happen unless you plan it. It doesn’t happen unless you put it on your calendar and invite others to join you. Who knows, it might just be the spark your class needs to get back to a healthy group that cares about people, God’s Word and making a difference in our world.

Don’t just sit there; Do Something. Somebody has to start 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 me on twitter @revseankeith.

Why Not?! – Three reasons why you should be a part of a Sunday School class or Small Group.

Why should I be a part of a small group or Sunday School class? My answer is, why not? In a Sunday School class, you are afforded the opportunity to gather with a small group of people, centered around God’s Word to accomplish His mission. Here are three reasons why you should be a part of a small group or Sunday School class that meets regularly.

It’s About People – When you join a class or group, it provides you the opportunity to connect with other people. You can pray for, encourage, listen to, share with, minister to other people. As well, they can provide the same for you. When you hear the term, “do life together”; that is what it means. Sunday School and Small groups are about people like you and me.

It’s About God’s Word – Every class or group should be centered around and focused on a discussion about God’s Word. It is the source of the information we need to live the Christian life. Every time we gather together to study and discuss God’s Word; God can change lives. Transformed lives is the primary reason for Sunday School and/or Small Groups.

It’s About Accomplish God’s Purpose – A small group of people, meeting regularly and working together to accomplish God’s unique plan for them in their community and in their lives. A regular, consistent group of people gathered around God’s Word can be equipped, encouraged and engaged in making a difference in the lives of those they interact with every week in the world in which they live. Together we can make a difference.

There are so many more reasons why you should be a part of a Sunday School class or small group. Just know that you need a class or group that meets regularly for the purpose of caring for one another, centered around God’s Word, and engaged in making a difference in our world. Not only that, a lot of people you meet and see every day need something like that too. Why not invite them to join you and let’s do life together.

Join a class or group today.

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 me on twitter @revseankeith.

The Power of the Invitation

Recently, Dr. Thom Rainer did a video blog called the Rainer Report on the topic of the relationship between inviting and church health. A couple of his key points are:

  • Inviting unchurched friends to church takes intentionality.
  • When we are energized to do positive things, we have less time and energy to do negative things.
  • When church members are focused on reaching out and inviting, they’re less focused on having things their way.
  • In-person invites to church are the most effective invites. (www.thomrainer.com)

The “invite” can have a powerful and life changing effect on the Sunday School class. When we are excited about our class or small group, we invite people to come and join us. When we don’t invite others, we are either focused only on ourselves or we don’t believe they would enjoy what we do. The good news is that our view of our class or group can change. The bigger question is, do you want it to change.

The reverse is also true. If we don’t invite people our class can become comfortable and stale. If you haven’t invited someone to your class or group in a while, you need to ask yourself why. What are the reasons why you aren’t inviting people to join you? Then ask yourself, can I change that? If not, maybe you need to start another group with people who are willing to invest in and engage with people who are not connected to a small group or Sunday School class.

There are people out there who would love to experience what you do every week, but no one has invited them. How will they know they are welcome to join you unless you ask them? I also know that many that you invite will not come. Try again, maybe they will. Some will not at all. Pray that God will change their heart. If they don’t connect well with your group or class, introduce them to another one.

We all want to feel wanted. We all want to connect with someone. We all want someone to care about us. Why not make your class or group focused on caring for other people, engage them around God’s Word every week and involve them in making a difference for Christ in the everyday world they live in. Everyone should want to be a part of that.

Why don’t you invite someone today!

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 me on twitter @revseankeith.

The Best Team Ever

I am a proud member of God’s team. That puts me on the winning team. He has called me and equipped me for one purpose—to serve Him. If you are a follower of Christ, God has extended the call to you as well. He has uniquely equipped you for service and ministry. We serve His church and His kingdom. Are you serving? What are your unique “gifts”? How are you using those gifts to accomplish God’s purpose?

If you are a big fan of football, and I am, you understand that it is the team that wins games; not the player. Sometimes I wonder if we forget this principle when it comes to ministry in the church. Service and ministry in and through the local church is not for the few and the proud. God calls and equips ALL of his people to service and ministry in HIS church and in HIS kingdom. We need to work together to accomplish God’s plan. We are better together. We can accomplish more, together.

It is the coach that calls the plays, not the players – We are SO busy! Our calendars are full. Our church calendars are full. It seems there is no margin in our lives for the most important things. We are busy doing lots of good things that we miss opportunities to accomplish great things for God, together. What is God calling you and your church to accomplish together in your community? Let Him call the play and you do your part to the best of your ability.

Just some thoughts…

  1. Listen to God. Obey Him. Do what He wants you to do.
  2. Work with others. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Ask them, let’s do it together.
  3. Mentor others. People need help in knowing what their next step is in becoming a servant for God. Give them a job. Encourage them and brag on them. Help them succeed.

It is not about us. It is all about God. Let’s take the field (football lingo) and accomplish great things for God—together.

Six Questions for people who are growing spiritually

Do you remember the envelope system? Of course you would place your tithe or offering in the envelope but you also had to check the boxes. Did you bring your Bible? Did you read your lesson? And so on. There were at least six questions you were asked to check every week. Maybe, that’s something we need to bring back. If so, here would be my suggestion.

Did you read your Bible regularly this week?

Did you tithe this week?

Did you pray regularly this week?

Did you have a gospel conversation with someone this week?

Did you perform a random act of kindness towards someone this week?

Did you attend Worship AND Sunday School this week?

What is a spiritually growing person supposed to be involved in every week? What habits or regular activities are they supposed to be engaged in? Asking these questions is not designed to judge people but simply to remind people what is involved in growing spiritually.

I suppose the reason the envelope is not still around is because someone “felt” judged by others and thought these questions were too intrusive. I don’t know. But this I do know, if we don’t start teaching, equipping and encouraging people to do these things, how are we supposed to expect them to grow?

I’m just saying!

BE Different

Don’t just make a difference; we need to BE the difference!

I walked into McDonalds to go to the bathroom and get a large drink. Little did I know that I would encounter a rude and angry customer berating the people behind the counter. Other customers just moved out of the way. He never got physical but his rant seemed to be over the top. The manager did an excellent job of trying to manage the customer’s anger and bring resolution to his issue. Even after the manager met his demands, he continued to complain.

I spoke up. I wasn’t angry or hostile, I just simply told him he had made his point and it was time to move on. Unexpectedly, he stopped yelling and simply left. I went to the counter, complimented the manager on her customer relation skills and told the employees behind the counter that I appreciated them. Oh and by the way, they messed up my order but I didn’t say anything. (NOTE: I was so stressed out I ordered a strawberry shake and got chocolate instead).

All around us we hear anger. The cry of the victim is all around us. Some of it real and some of it simply based on perception. We begin to feel mistreated, misunderstood or cheated. We feel tempted to join in on the tirade and give people a piece of our mind. We display it in road rage on the highways. We see it in hotels, restaurants, stores, shops and so much more.

BUT, shouldn’t we be different. 27 “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either.
30 Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. 31 Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them
. Luke 6:27-31 (HCSB)

This passage is not about letting people rule your life. It’s about an attitude that we as Christians should I have. God is first, others are next, then my own needs. Wouldn’t you like to be treated that way as well?

Three things you should know when you share the gospel

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 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 draws 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. While you are debating the words to use, God is already at work in your heart and mind. While you are talking, God is at work in the heart and mind of the person you are sharing with. Trust me, they are hearing the gospel even if our words are not as “perfect” as we would like them to be. Don’t misunderstand me, attending classes and training seminars on how to share your faith are important. Do what you can to improve your witness. Just don’t 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. I am always there to bail them out if needed. However, in all of these years, I have never had to. 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!

3 Things You Need if You Want to Start a NEW GROUP

The right vision – Before starting a new group the most important question to answer is WHY? Just announcing the new class, finding a new teacher and assigning a room is important to starting new groups, but the real success comes from the why question. Why are you starting the new group? Who are you trying to reach through the new group? How will this help you to reach more people, disciple more people and develop more leaders?

The answer to the why question will be the clarion call to those willing to support the new group and those who will be interested in being a part of the new group. Remember, relationships are fundamental to the small group process but the objective is to make disciples who make disciples. To ignore one or the other is a recipe for disaster.

The right plan – Know your context. The right plan must understand the culture of the group you are trying to reach. I can honestly tell you that every group that I have helped to start was unique. There are principles that apply to every new group you start but the methods are many.

The right plan takes time to develop. Pray through it. Talk about it. Ask questions of existing groups. Discover those not attending a small group or class and probe their thoughts on starting a new class. Take the time to recruit the right leader. Develop the best curriculum plan and discover the best space possible to start the new group.

Great vision without a great plan is the definition of a disaster.

The right person – If God is leading you to start a new group, then He also has the right point person to be a catalyst to the beginning and continuation of the new group. (Hint: when I was on church staff, I kept a list of potential leaders on a sheet of paper that I kept in my Bible). Pray for God to show you the right person. Ask the person to pray for God to show him/her His desire for them and this new group. Spend time with them in prayer, planning and encouragement.

I can’t tell you the best way for you to start a new group but I know the one who does. God can and will lead you to make the best decisions in starting a new group. New groups are a must if you desire for, your church to be healthy and vibrant in your community. However, if you don’t start at least one new group every year, I can tell you that you are headed on a path to decline.

Pray right now and decide to be a catalyst in starting a new group.

Creating a Culture of Invitation in Your Small Group

Is your class or small group OPEN to new members? Is your class or small group EXPECTING new people to attend/join?

The answer to these two questions helps you determine whether or not your class or small group exhibits a “Culture of Invitation.” At the core of why your class or group exists is about making disciples. Our context is a small group of people, gathered around God’s Word and determined to accomplish His purpose. It’s about people. Our focus is on God and fulfilling His purpose, but our target is people. Use these suggestions to help your class or small group create a “Culture of Invitation.”

It starts before a guest or prospect arrives.

  • Assign someone to be primarily responsible for greeting and befriending any new guests.
  • Weekly remind members to invite friends, peers, co-workers and family to join them in Bible study.
  • Prepare the room for guests. Make sure the chairs are arranged so the guest will be comfortable and feel welcome.
  • Make sure you have enrollment cards, pens and name tags available. Additional Bible study books should be on hand to provide to guests.

When guests arrive…

  • Invite guests to sit in the best seats and surround them with people who are interested in them.
  • Collect accurate information for the purpose of follow up.
  • Invite them to join the class. You can enroll someone as a member just as easily as you can collect guest information.
  • Everybody wears a name tag. Use one color for guests and another for members.
  • Focus on getting to know the person, not just on completing tasks.
  • Invite guests to join you in worship. Ask them to sit with you and your family.
  • Invite guests to join you for lunch.
  • Be sure and introduce your guests to the Senior Pastor and other appropriate staff.
  • Assists with collecting children if they have preschoolers.

Follow up after a guests visit.

  • Make a phone call within 24 hours thanking them for their participation.
  • If they choose to join you, help them know what their next step would be.
  • Ask if you can add them to your mailing lists, email lists, blog, facebook or text group. If they requests to be removed, please honor their wishes.
  • Continue to make contact until they join and become active or they request to not be contacted anymore.

Living Missional; 4 arenas for missional living

18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. John 17:18 (HCSB)

“Living Sent” – When we received the gift of Jesus Christ, eternal life, the forgiveness of sin, and so much more, we were adopted into the Family of God. We are heirs, God’s children—family. Our privilege and responsibility is to now invite as many people as possible to join God’s family. But, how can they hear unless someone tells them? How can they see unless someone shows them? How can they know unless someone leads them?

People are watching. I’m not trying to freak you out, but people around us are observing what we say and do. They notice where we go and don’t go. They see how we live. Years ago I had a neighbor named Fred, (that really was his name). For months we talked over the fence about normal stuff. We laughed a lot and shared stories. One day, Fred asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a Baptist Minister. Things got real quiet. Then Fred said, “Sean, if I had known that months ago we would not have been friends”. Fred had had a bad history with some church folks in his past and it left a bitter taste. Fred got to know me by the way I lived before he knew what my titles were.

People need the chance to see the Jesus in you. They need to hear the hope that is within you. Our world is selfish and desperately needs to see someone who loves them—unconditionally. They are desperate to be a part of a family like the one we have: God’s family. Take these truths and apply them to these 4 arenas of your life.

Your family – The people that really know you the best are those that are with you the most. Be careful to live the kind of life every day that glorifies God.

Your church – If we can’t love those who are part of God’s family, what does that say to the world who is watching us. 34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (HCSB)

Your Work or School – For many of us, these are people we see almost every day. How we live our life indicates what we value most. People at work or school need to see that Jesus is the most important person in your life.

Your Community – Every smile you give to a cashier, every kind word you say to a waiter and every door you open for others shows your heart and love for people. Give generously. Volunteer your time, your gifts and your resources to help others. Be Jesus in your community everywhere you go, everything you say and everything you do.

Christianity is 24/7. #Live4God