Have you ever heard of a church being criticized for being “hung up on numbers”? I have heard it a time or two. I’m sure there have been churches concerned about numbers for the sake of pride, greed, or competition with the congregation across town. If that is the case, then priorities are in the wrong place. However increasing numbers in church attendance or in a Bible class program is much more than just building the numbers on the church stats board. Each of those numbers represents a valuable soul.
So what are some ways to build a Bible class program? How can we strengthen and encourage our own members to attend Bible classes as well as encouraging non-members to come and bring their children? Here are a few ideas that are geared for adult classes:
- Offer age appropriate, quality Bible classes for all ages. I think most congregations have the first part down. There are usually classes for all ages, but what about the “quality” part? I have attended Bible classes before where I felt like it was just a test of my faithfulness to be there. Don’t punish people for trying to do the right thing! All teachers have to be prepared with material that is Biblical, challenging, and that contains practical application to our lives.
- Have a variety of classes including ones that are textual as well as ones with timely themes.
- Avoid large, less personal classes such as is often the case in an auditorium class setting. Smaller, more personal classes with dialogue are usually more interesting than those with a lecture format.
- Provide teachers with workshops, trainings and lectureships to renew and revive them. When teachers are excited about teaching, students will be more excited about learning!
- Don’t give the youth classes all the attention while neglecting the adult classes. Many churches have opted into a “youth-driven” mindset, meaning “Provide for the youth and the parents will come.” Actually, the reverse is true. “Provide for the adults and the children will come.” If adult classes are interesting and relevant then adults will come; and if the adults come, then their children will come too.
- Create a list of those within the congregation who are not attending Bible classes. Then add prospects from visitor lists, VBS attendees and friends. Include addresses, phone numbers, family email addresses, and how the person is connected to the church. Include names of all children, too. Then have the elders and other faithful members pray for them, send invitations, or make phone calls encouraging their Bible class participation.
- Build rapport with all students & families. Get to know your students and their families. Send cards for birthdays and special occasions. Recognize accomplishments of your students in and outside of the church. This isn’t just for children. Pay attention to what goes on in peoples’ lives outside the church building and give recognition and praise when it is due.
- Plan group social events where relationships can be strengthened outside the typical church service setting. Be sure that some of these events include all family members and church leaders. Building relationships outside of the class is important.
- Offer events such as special classes or seminars on relevant subjects like marriage, parenting, grief, or addiction outside of regular worship times. There are many people who are struggling in their personal lives or with their family members. Make extra efforts to invite people from the community to attend as well as our own members.
- Don’t overlook those older adults and disabled people who may not be able to attend due to inability to drive to services. Offer to pick up those who have mobility issues or cannot drive due to health needs.
Again, this isn’t just a numbers game. Each number is a soul. How will you help them find their way home?