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Suggestions for Building a Bible Class Program

sleepHave 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Have a variety of classes including ones that are textual as well as ones with timely themes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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?

Comments 4

  • I remember when I first started going to church and into my teen years how the class would send you a card if you missed going. Makes one feel special to know they were remembered by those at church. One other thing they did back then was to have workbooks for us to take home to study, fill in blanks and take to class with us as we discussed the topic of that lesson. They used books prepared by George DeHoff who also preached at our Central Ohio Lectureships each year so we were honored to get to know him better which inspired many to study harder and stay on the path to God.

    Today too many congregations are just reading scripture verse-by-verse in the teen classes and boring the teens because they aren’t challenging them to think or study and before they know it, many have quit going to church altogether when they leave home. And that system is also being followed in many adult classes which is causing some to leave and attend elsewhere. Churches also need to get the teens involved in doing church activities together ~ devotionals at church or in someone’s home, going to nursing homes and singing for the folks, taking a time to work together 2 or 3 times each year helping the elderly with yard work, helping a congregation with campaign work for their gospel meeting or having youth rallies and sending out notices to other congregations at least 6 months in advance with another one sent out about a month before the get together as a reminder. As an elder said when I was a teenager, the teens are the church of today and need to be kept busy and taught how to do the Lord’s work. God bless you all.

    • I totally agree that there are quite a few sub-standard classes going on with teens, too. The things in my article apply to teen classes just as much as the adult classes. They definitely need to be challenged to develop their own faith and be able to answer questions about what they believe in rather than just relying on their parents faith.

      You make some good points about the youth. I agree that teenagers should be having times together spent in service and devotionals as well as social. I know where we worship, the kids are constantly involved in these things. In fact, I just received the 2014 calendar and there are dozens and dozens of these opportunities throughout the year.

      I would like to add one thing to what you said. I believe the times of service projects and devotional times should not be just limited to the youth, but to all ages. I have known of situations where older members in a congregation were complaining about the kids not doing enough of these things and yet in the “Senior Members” group that regularly got together, all they did as a group was go out to eat and take day trips to social events. Not once did they as a group do service or spiritually focused activities. In my experience with various congregations, the youth have always done more in this area than the older members.

      Thank you so much for your good comments!

  • Thank you Sister Higginbotham,

    Your articles are consistently helpful and on target – something our Bible classes would do well to follow. I am on your blog this morning because I knew I could find something to encourage our teachers with in our meeting this morning, and I was right! Thanks!