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Two Things Church Members Need from Their Leaders

Most people in your church, if asked, would say they want their church to fulfill the Great Commission. They want their church to grow. They want to reach the lost. They want to grow in their faith. Sometimes, however, we as leaders don’t give them what they need most to get to the next level personally, in their church and in their community.

Your people need HOPE. They need to know that there is something that God has for them that is better than what they have right now. They need to clearly see what we as leaders are leading them to become and to accomplish. If they can’t see it, how can you motivate them to do what is necessary to make that HOPE a reality? 18 Where there is no vision, the people perish,… Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) Our people need to have hope. Change can’t happen until they believe God has something ahead of them that is worth the effort to change. 7 Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Psalm 39:7 (HCSB)

Your people also need to TRUST you. Trust doesn’t happen instantly. Sometimes, it’s the little things you say or do. It is difficult to lead others when there is doubt about your character or integrity. Over time, people can learn to trust you. People realize that you are looking out for them and not just your own interests. You can’t control what people believe or perceive about you but you can continue every day to live a life that is worthy of their trust. As a leader, people need to know they can trust you to follow you. 14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, John 10:14 (HCSB)

You are a shepherd to the sheep that God has given you the privilege to lead. As the Pastor, you are the under-shepherd to Jesus who is the Great Shepherd. Even as Sunday School or Small Group leaders, we too have shepherding responsibilities. Do you know their name? Do they know yours? I am not just talking about their literal name, but the name that your reputation, your character and your integrity give you. Are you Trustworthy? If so, your people need to know where you are leading them and what they will find when we all get there.

Three Mistakes Most Sunday School Teachers or 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 placed 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, a job loss or more. Often times, in the midst of our business we miss the subtle clues that something is not quite right at home.

All of these situations 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 knows, 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.

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 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.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 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.