By Neil E Jackson Jr
Ten Ways to Find Prospects Inside the Four Walls
Across the Southern Baptist Convention, the growing churches have prospect files equal to or greater than their Sunday School enrollment. Growing churches are constantly looking for prospects. A prospect file that is more than six months old is probably obsolete. It must be kept up-to-date and active to start your church growing or to increase its growth.
For the congregation to grow, prospecting and the need to reach prospects must be kept at the forefront of church leaders.
Here is an example. A large, fast-growing church in the Southeast has the following prospect file/reaching program. They have: twenty-five thousand prospects on file, ten thousand in Sunday School enrollment, five thousand in Sunday School attendance, four-hundred people taking census every Saturday looking for prospects, and one thousand involved in visitation on Tuesday—
their special day.
This sounds like big-church talk. I can hear a number of skeptics saying “Sure, if I had that kind of a Sunday School enrollment and attendance, we could have those kind of results.” Wait a minute! I’m talking concepts and principles, not numbers.
Let’s just delete the last row of zeros from these figures. We now have twenty-Jive hundred prospects on file, one thousand Sunday School enrollment, five hundred Sunday School attendance, forty people taking census every Saturday, and a hundred in visitation on Tuesday.
Still a big church! Yes, I still hear some of you saying that if we were that big with an enrollment of a thousand plus we could do great things, too.
You are saying, “Neil, you just don’t understand the small church.” Again, I’m talking concepts and principles, not numbers.
Let’s delete another row of zeros. Do you have: two hundred fifty prospects on file? One hundred enrolled? Fifty in attendance? Four people looking for prospects each week? Ten in visitation?
You see now what I am saying. It is not the size of a church, but a principle of growth and reaching people— regardless of your church size.
Do you want to grow? It is your mind-set that will bring about growth or prevent it. What do you want to do? Here are ten plans and possibilities to increase your prospect file. Read all ten. Pick out those that you can do.
Some can be done now (in the next thirty days). Then schedule the others with deadline dates, and you will have a prospect file equal to or greater than your present Sunday School enrollment.
Plan 1: Church Members Not Enrolled in Sunday School
If your church is over ten years old, probably over 50 percent of your resident membership is not enrolled in Bible study. Every born-again Christian should desire Bible study and be involved in Bible study somewhere in the church program.
Did you know that there are at least nine possible places a person could be enrolled in Bible study? A growing church should consider the need to create the following places of Bible study ministry.
1. Regular Sunday School
3. Cradle Roll
4. Pastor’s Class
5. Deaf Ministry
6. Special Education (retarded)
7. Ethnic Class(es)_language groups
8. Sunday Workers
9. Students, Military, Youth Away
Here is how to discover what church members are not enrolled in Sunday School Bible study. With your church member roll and Sunday School roll on separate lists, compare each name on the Sunday School roll with the church roll. If the Sunday School name appears on the church roll, run a line through the name on the church roll. After going through the list, those names on the
church roll that do not have a line through them indicate prospects for Sunday School. At the same time, if there is a name on the Sunday School roll that does not appear on the church roll, write the name on a third list as an evangelistic prospect for baptism or transfer of a church letter. You have accomplished two things at once.
After you have completed your search of church members not enrolled in Bible study, figure the percentage of church members not enrolled in Sunday School in your church. This figure becomes a motivation tool to use in enrolling people in Bible study. Don’t lose it; use it.
Now that we have the list of prospective church members, how do we enroll them in one of the nine areas (assuming that your church sees a need for all nine)? All churches could and should have the first three teaching units—regular Sunday School, Homebound, and Cradle Roll. People are still getting older, and babies are still being born—therefore the need for Homebound and Cradle Roll. The next six are optional and decided upon by the local church. The first step would be to decide that for two months (larger churches may plan longer) intensive efforts being made to enroll all church members into Bible study.
The first week a letter from the pastor to all church members not enrolled in Bible study would be sent with a postage-free mailback enrollment card enclosed.
Sample Letter 1
(To church members not enrolled in Sun day School)
Dear (name of church member):
According to our records you are a church member but not a member of the Sunday School Bible teaching hour.
In 2 Timothy 2:15, the Bible says to “study to shew thyself approved unto God.”
There are many other Scriptures that indicate we are to gather for fellowship, Bible study, and spiritual growth.
We believe the born-again Christian can and will want to do this for God’s glory. We believe this can be done by joining the Sunday School.
There are a number of areas a born- again church member can join in Bible study.
On the enclosed card are a number of options a church member can choose from to be a part of the Sunday School Bible teaching program.
We want you to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
Please indicate your choice and return the card.
Here is a sample of the mailback enrollment card. This card would be modified to list those ministries Your church decides to provide.)
Please check one of the following places you would like to be enrolled in Sunday School Bible study.
— 1. Regular Sunday School
__ 2. Pastor’s Class
__3. Homebound Ministry (those who are shut-ins)
__4. Cradle Roll (for newborn babies or expectant mothers)
— 5. Special Education (class for the retarded)
— 6. Sunday Workers (those who work on Sunday morning; class meets Wednesday night)
— 7. Language Class (ethnic groups)
__8. Deaf Class
__9. Students Away (college, military, or professionals out of town)
Return the ‘mailback card or notify the church office of your preference.
During the second, third, and fourth week the pastor preaches about the need for everyone to be enrolled in Bible study. He may use various approaches such as, “Did you know 52 percent of our resident membership is not enrolled in Bible study? A letter has been sent to all our resident membership encouraging them to enroll in Bible study A mailback enrollment card was enclosed for their convenience. Some of our church members are in this service. We want you to reach in the pew rack, take one of the cards (use the same card that was mailed to all church members), fill it out, and place it in the offering plate.”
Special Note to Preachers
The most powerful Place of Promotion is the Pulpit
The most powerful Person of Promotion is the Pastor/paid staff
In a very large church the minister of education may be giving the challenge. However, the pastor’s voice should be heard in support of the concept. The three weeks on intensive promotion from the pulpit conditions the congregation and membership to think of the necessity of everyone enrolled in Bible study
During weeks five-six and seven-eight the church members are contacted by phone or a personal visit by Sunday School classes for which they are prospects. Out reach leaders, teachers, and members encourage them to join their Sunday School class.
During weeks nine through twelve, those church members who still are not enrolled may join a Pastor’s Class. If he has not already done so, the pastor starts a Class and enrolls those church members. It is very difficult to tell the preacher, “No, I don’t want to be a member of your class.”
Plan 2: Parents of Children Eighteen and Under
Remember that we are still finding prospects inside the church-house walls. This can be a secretarial function or volunteer help could be enlisted until the list is made, much like what was shown previously
List the parents of all the children eighteen years and younger. Compare the names of the parent with the Adult Sunday School roll. If a name does not appear, place it on the prospect list. Use the sample letter to parents. Enclose the mailback card.
Sample Letter 2
(To parents who are not enrolled)
Dear (Person’s Name):
We are delighted to have your child in Sunday School Bible study. We believe you are doing a great thing in encouraging your child to study God’s Word. TheScripture says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
We believe you can strengthen the training greatly by being enrolled in a Sunday School Bible class, too. This could be very meaningful. First Timothy in the fourth chapter says “Be thou an example” (v. 12).
We have a place for everyone in our Sunday School Bible study program.
Enclosed is a mailback card for you to indicate where you would like to be enrolled. Return the card so we can get your study material to you.
Plan 3: VBS Transfer Plan
The letter can be adapted with the opening statement, “We were happy to have your child in VBS.” Then use basically the same letters as the one to parents of all children. Enclose the mailback card.
Plan 4: Instant Prospects
See Motivational Ideas for Changing Lives for more detail of this method. The instant prospect plan can be used every six months in a main auditorium. It also can be used in a Sunday School department if the church leaders opt not to do this in the worship service. This can be done in a Sunday School class if a department opts not to do this.
Place index cards in the back of the pews. During the announcement period of the morning worship ask every person, including children in the congregation to take a card and write the name of one person they know who is not attending Bible study anywhere on Sunday morning. Attending is a key word to use, not enrolled.
Numbers work for you if you know how to use them. They will work against you if you don’t know how to use them. Therefore, stress placing only one name on the card. Some will place more. If you ask the people to list as many names as they can of people they know who are not attending Bible study, they cannot think of anyone. But, when you ask for just one, 75 percent of the people know at least one person who is not attending Bible study. Help the people to think of who is not attending. Ask them to think of their neighbor, friend, relative, someone they work with, go to school with, or them selves.
After they have written the name ask them to write the person’s phone number. If they do not know the phone number, ask them to write the person’s address.
Ask the person who is giving the information to write their name at the bottom of the three-by-five card and circle it. This helps the church office to know where the information came from. If additional information is needed, contact can be made.
When the offering is taken ask people to place the cards in the offering plates, or turn them in at the close of the service. The latter produces better results as it gives more time for the person to think, “Who do I know that does not attend?”
You have just now done an “Instant Prospect” and had a part in evangelism. Let’s start letting people know that when they give a name as a prospect they are having a part in evangelism.
It will surprise you that prospects will be about the same age and sex as the person filling out the card. So in a sense, a grading program has already taken place. Be cause of this method, each class can find its own prospects. Children will give names of children, youth will give names of youth, young adults will give names of young adults, and so forth. Now your Sunday School can grow! So go and grow!
The cards are then sorted by age divisions; that is, children, youth, and adults. Remove the duplications. You will discover little duplication because people will put down the name of a close friend or neighbor. This is one reason for asking for one name. Another is that the cards will grade themselves. The majority of information will be about the same age and sex of the person giving the information. So, a form of grading takes place.
Plan 5: Visitors to All Services
(Worship and Sunday School—a letter with the mailback card can be used, See sample letter.)
Sample Letter 3
(To visitors in both church services and Sunday School)
Dear (name of visitor):
We were glad to have you in our services.
We want you to be more than a visitor. We want you to be a member of our Sunday School Bible teaching program.
Enclosed is a mailback card for you to indicate in which part of the Sunday School Bible teaching program you would like to be enrolled. Please return the card so we can get your Bible study material to you.
We believe everyone should be in some type of Bible study
See you Sunday in the Sunday School Bible teaching hour.
Yours for Bible study
Other Types of Letters that Build a Church:
1. Letters to potential parents (Cradle Roll prospects)
2. Letters to masses in a community to find prospects (occupant mailing)
3. Follow-up letter to respondents of the letter shown
4. Letters to enroll all shut-ins (homebound minis try)
5. Letters to youth (high school(s) student body)
6. Letters to ethnic groups (for a new ethnic class)
7. Letters to parents of persons with special education needs
8. Letters to members asking for leads to prospects
9. Letters for high-attendance days or other special days
10. Letters for stewardship commitment
11. Letters for Sunday School visitation
12. Letters to potential workers
13. Letters to potential bus riders
14. Letters to the members for encouragement
15. Letters to apartment-complex dwellers
16. Letters to those in a hospital
17. Letters to those in jail
18. Letters to the newcomers in town
19. Letters to those who have a crisis (source: news paper)
20. Letters to bereaved families (source: newspaper)
Plan 6: Prospecting by the Clock
This idea will work most effectively about three months after you have done the Instant Prospect. The congregation will be more aware of possibilities for Sun day School membership and prospects.
In the main auditorium, again distribute the index cards to everyone—children through senior adults. The difference this time is that you want people to think of more than one name.
Take the largest chalkboard or an overhead projector to the auditorium and draw a clock.
The first question asked is, “Think now of people you come in contact with between 6:00 and 9:00 AM that do not attend Sunday School Bible study” This will probably be a person in the family, people they ride to work with or see on the way to work or school, Write that name, phone number (if they know it), or the street where they live.
Second question: “Who do you come in contact with between 9:00 AM and noon?” It may be someone on coffee break; that they eat lunch with or are in school with. Write the name, phone number or street where they live.
Third question: “Who do you come in contact with between noon and 3:00 PM?” Again, it may be at lunch, on coffee break, at work, or in a school class. Write the name, phone number, or street where they live.
Fourth question: “Who do you come in contact with between 3:00 and 6:00 PM?” It may be someone in a car pool or on a bus. Write the name, phone number, or street where they live.
Fifth question: “Who do you come in contact with between 6:00 and 9:00 PM?” It may be someone on a bowling team, party friends, ball teams, or other social contacts. Write the name, phone number, or street where they live.
Sixth question: Because of shift work, many people work from 3:00 to 11:00 PM, so asking your congregation about people they come in contact with between 9:00 PM and 12:00 AM is not unreasonable. Ask the people after they have written the names to put the approximate ages. Accuracy is not that important at this time. The purpose of approximate age is to help in assigning the prospect to the right class or department. You may ask if the prospect is a preschooler, child, youth, young adult, median adult, or senior adult.
Because you are asking for several names, allow the congregation to continue to fill out the card during the remainder of the service. They will think of other names as the hour progresses. Ask that somewhere on the card the person giving the information write their name and phone number on the card, and circle it. This gives opportunity for additional follow-up information.
At the close of the service, remind the people of the cards. Have the ushers take the cards from the people as they leave.
Now with cards in hand, a records secretary can make prospect cards or lists. Volunteers can look up most of the addresses in the phone book.
Plan 7: Prospecting in Your Newspaper for Prospects
That’s right. Especially you who live in towns that have a community newspaper or who live in small towns can use the newspaper. Here are suggestions for places to look:
Sports page.—Write the name of every high-school athlete mentioned. Write a letter of congratulations and invite them to meet with your youth Sunday morning, during a worship service, or for an after-church fellow ship.
Look their name up in the phone book or send the letter to them at the school address.
Financial or business section. —Write a letter of congratulations to people who are honored by promotion, new businesses, or whatever, especially bankers.
Society section.—Write a letter of congratulations to people who have recently been married or become engaged.
Obituary section. —That’s right. Names of the family members and relatives are mentioned, and many have no contact with anyone’s church. If ever there is a time and need for ministry, it is during the bereavement period.
Hospital listing section.—This consists of a standard get-well card with a note to the person that you and your church are praying for them. Many of these people need encouragement and to know that someone cares. Ask if there is any way you can be of service.
Birth announcement section.—Names and addresses of young parents. Send a letter or card of congratulations. Start the new family with a church background. Enroll in Cradle Roll, give a certificate, New Testament, and an open invitation. Most of the time, this is the greatest time in their lives.
Real estate sales section.—Many newspapers list the agency and house address of new sales. Ask a realtor in your congregation or section of town for a listing each month of homes sold in your area. This process beats any welcome wagon or utility printout. In many cities information on utility hookup is not available.
Enlist volunteer help such as senior adults. Train them how to look in the newspaper for names. They can do much of the task for this job. Assure that they are doing a real service and ministry for the church.
These are a few ideas of prospecting from your news paper. Others will come to you as you use and expand this concept. In each of these, slant the letter to the type of prospects you are addressing. Congratulations will be the overriding theme of all the letters, except those in the obituary or hospital category. In each, a response card and/or phone number of the church, along with the pastor’s name and church’s name, should be included for their response. Consider giving a respondent’s gift to those who respond to the mail. A New Testament is an ideal gift.
The purpose of this approach is twofold. First, public relations—visibility of and for your church. The amount of money spent in direct mail will be a far less per-capita gain than newspaper, television, or radio ads. This does not count the intangible results. The second purpose is, of course, additions to your Sunday School and eventually people accepting Christ and church membership.
Plan 8: Hospital “Prospecting”
This idea is most effective in smaller towns. Depending on the size and/or number of hospitals in your area, the idea is to have a number of pastor’s calling cards. Whether this is done by the pastor or volunteer hospital callers, visit each room. Each bedside visit should only be for a few moments. Introduce yourself. Ask if there is any request you can fulfill. Ask if they attend a church locally or have a pastor they can call, If not, ask if you could be their pastor while they are in the hospital. Leave a pastor’s calling card on the bedside table. Say, “Call us if we can be of service to you.”
Many people become very conscious of spiritual needs especially when they are “flat, looking up.”
When they are up and around, they are most apt to be open to your visitors from Sunday School and many can be enrolled in Sunday School while still in the hospital. Many can be led to the Lord while there.
Plan 9: Prospect/Enrollment Cards in the Pew
Print a simple prospect/enrollment card with space for name, address, phone number, and approximate age. (See sample.)
Date of birth ______________ Grade____________
Transportation needed? Yes___ No___
During the service, the pastor, Sunday School director, or minister of education calls attention to the cards during the announcements and asks the congregation:
“Do you know a prospect?” or “Are you visiting us today and would like to be enrolled in our Sunday School? Fill out a card and drop it in the offering plate.”
Plan 10: Using the Telephone (Print a Pad)
Have small scratch pads printed to be used by church and Sunday School members. Give a pad to each church family for their home phone, and a pad to every church member who works in an office.
At the top of each sheet on the pad in bold print, have printed “Discover a Prospect Today.” (See sample.)
Every one of these methods can be done within the four walls. This still leaves the traditional methods that should be done annually such as Family People Search, and a telephone survey.
Discover a Prospect Today
Phone (if known)_______________________________________
Notes, Ideas, Comments:______________________________
Church Phone Number:______________________
Call or leave information at church office
“An Apple for the Teacher”
For twelve years Plymouth Park Baptist Church, Irving, Texas, where BO Baker is pastor and David Strawn is minister of education, has committed the last Sunday morning before the first day of the opening of the public school to “Teacher Appreciation Day.” All teachers and school-support personnel, plus administrative officials and school-board trustees receive a special letter of invitation from the pastor inviting them to be present for the worship service. Proper coverage is given to this event through the news media.
Identification tags are given to the teachers upon their entrance to the sanctuary and a designated section of the sanctuary is marked off for them. Platform guests include the superintendent of schools, school administrators, and trustees from the local church.
The program includes the recognition of all teachers and school personnel. Children are prepared to give each teacher a ceramic “red apple” as a memento of the occasion The superintendent is recognized for a response after which there is a prayer for the teachers and school staff as they approach the threshold of a new school year. This is an important part of the order of ser vice. The pastor’s message always commends, but re minds persons of the relational responsibility of home, school, and church. This has often been a time to receive schoolteachers and leaders into church membership.
The service is sometimes followed by a reception in the courtyard, hosted by the young people. This program and procedure has been well received and is now a part of the tradition both this church and community.
E—enrollees for the
Purpose—To find prospects for the Sunday School in a continuous short-term period involving more people over the period of time than a one-weekend people search emphasis.
Methodology—Prepare your materials as you would for a people search with packets for the People Search Family Cards. Place the maps on the packet of the streets to be taken. Use the Scriptures (New Testaments, Gospel of John, or Book of Romans) for distribution. The Scriptures as a gift causes people to be more receptive to give information for the People Search Family Cards.
Enlisting the workers—This is the beauty and unique ness of Project SEEK. Depending on the size of your church, the project could last four weeks or an entire quarter. It can be done by classes or departments.
The minister of education or Sunday School director enlists the teacher or department director to choose any Saturday or Sunday during the given quarter or month. The teacher then takes the challenge and enlists the canvassers (those who will knock on doors) from their classes or the department.
The object of the emphasis becomes more of a class or department project. Yet it is a part of the overall project of the Sunday School—to build the prospect file to equal the Sunday School enrollment. PF = SS ENR.
Advantages of This Approach:
* The enlisting power or influence of a teacher or department director can be stronger and get more people involved than if a People Search Campaign is done by the whole church on one given Sunday.
* Over the longer period more people will become involved and more packets will be completed.
* The information will spread more evenly over the longer period of time and be assimilated into the classes and departments of the Sunday School,
* This will allow the minister of education or Sunday School director to target special areas of the church’s prospective field or neighborhood.
* It gives Sunday School members freedom of choice as to day, month, and so forth.
* Some people will find a new way of being able to perform a ministry that is not teaching, singing, playing an instrument, or praying in public.
• Visit new members
• Visit all members at least once a year
• Participate in weekly contact/visitation
• Share Christian witness through visitation
• Lead class outreach leader in selecting and forming group leaders—four to seven in a group
• Plan with your outreach and group leaders
• Know the duties of outreach leader and group leaders; train them for their work
• Guide department directors and leaders in developing plans
• Develop a reporting system of visits and contacts
• Establish an enrolling and dropping plan
• Develop a process to welcome visitors
• Train outreach workers
• Personally participate in outreach
• Oversee processing information discovered on Sun day and other days
• Prepare or oversee visitation assignment slips
• Promote outreach plans for the month
• Review reports of contacts given Sunday
• Distribute information on new prospects
• Promote all types of contacting
• Have assignments ready for visitation day
• Lead the department to support outreach activities
• Develop a department organization for reaching
• Enlist competent department outreach leader
• Develop and promote prospect discovery
• Assist class leaders in doing their job
• Lead workers to participate
• Promote and participate in contacting
Sunday and/or Workers’ Meeting
• Discuss ways of involving members
• Has immediate contact with members
•Contact regular members and absentees
•Witness to unsaved members and prospects
• Contact and cultivate prospects
• Report contacts made
• Report any member needs
• Encourage members to participate in contacting
• Compile class report
• Register visitors and report to teacher and outreach leader
• Enroll new members with complete information
• Report on absentees
• Participate in outreach
Outreach Director of the Sunday School
• Assist Sunday School director in reaching people
• Organize the Sunday School for growth by enlisting outreach workers
• Develop a prospect discovery system
• Maintain a prospect file
• Assign prospects to departments and classes
• Develop weekly prospect assignment system
• Guide weekly contacting of members and prospects
• Make new members feel at ease
• Encourage members to take part in outreach
• Present Christ in the lesson
• Report contacts made to the department director and outreach leader
• Organize the class for outreach
• Maintain an up-to-date prospect book
• Assign prospects to members and group leaders
• Secure reports on visits and contacts
• Guide group leaders in visitation
• Lead in enrolling new people
• Report weekly to the department outreach director on visits/contacts
• Encourage class members to participate in visitation
• Welcome, introduce, register, and enroll visitors or new members
• Assist department outreach leader in prospect discovery
• Report Sunday visitors and new members
• Report contacts
• Receive new prospects and enter into book
• Assign new members to group leaders
• Prepare assignments for visitation
• Recognize new members and visitors
• Promote contacting
• Give time for assigning prospects
• Encourage workers to participate
• Promote participation
Department Outreach Leaders
• Promote outreach
• Promote outreach discovery
• Make assignments of new members
• Promote enrolling Lead in witnessing
• Secure reports of contacts
• Participate in contacting
• Report visitors and new members
• Report contacts
Using the Mary-Martha Class
Earlier in the chapter, ten ways to find prospects in the four walls was given.
In several of the ways mentioned, it is obvious that a need for volunteer help is a necessity.
A primary, necessary guideline is: the secret to success is involvement. The more people involved the more successful your program will be.
With that in mind, a pastor, minister of education, Sunday School director, or department director needs to work at getting as many people involved as possible. Keep in mind also the KISS principle—Keep It Simple Somehow. People will do things better they understand.
One of the ten ways suggested was using the news paper to find prospects. It is loaded with names and ad dresses of people. For example, the real-estate page. In Nashville the first Sunday of every month all the addresses of houses sold for the previous month are listed. These are newcomers to that address. The large majority of these people do not have a church relationship in that community.
As a leader of a church, on Sunday morning during Sunday School, go to the Mary-Martha Class (this is probably a senior adult class in your church). Ask them if they would like to perform a real ministry for the church in outreach and evangelism. No doubt those two words, outreach and evangelism, will scare half the class as they will think you want them to “hit the streets in a door-knocking, soul-winning, get-saved program.”
Tell them, “We are not asking you to ‘hit the streets in a door-knocking, soul-winning, get-saved program.” In their minds they will have just said, “Boy, that’s a relief!”
“We want your class to pick out one morning a month, between 9 AM and 12 noon, when as many as possible could come to the fellowship hall. We will have coffee and doughnuts. Bring your last week’s newspapers. We are going to look for prospects in the newspapers. We want you to help us find the prospects, fill out prospect cards or as I like to call them—suspect cards (see the
sample following). If you will help us do this, you will have a part in outreach evangelism.”
The greatest weaknesses in the churches today are the lack of fresh, up-to-date prospects and a prospect file that equals the Sunday School enrollment.
You may add a comment to the class if any members have typewriters and would like to bring them, to please do so.
What have you done in this approach?
• Involved a number of people with untapped abilities that would not or could not be involved in other ways.
• Found a number of prospects.
• Built a productive fellowship in the membership.
• Taken a load off the secretarial staff.
• Broadened the realistic base of outreach/evangelism in the minds of the people.
• Plus, the members of the class that participated had fun, fellowship, and a sense of service.
To increase greater participation of volunteers in the future, give recognition. Give the “well done, thou good and faithful servant”
From the pulpit during morning worship take ten second to have those in the Mary-Martha Class that helped last week to stand. Say something like, “These people helped your pastor (or church) in a part of outreach/ evangelism. They gave three hours in helping us find prospects from the newspapers and filled out prospect cards. Thank you, Mary-Martha Class. Well done, thou good and faithful servants,”
This type of appreciation always brings the best out of people. It motivates others, for people want their pastor to think well of them. People, in general, want praise and affirmation. Remember, the old saying, “Vinegar never draws flies; honey always does.”
There are several other ideas in the ten ways that a volunteer group can be used. Another example is if you are preparing a sizable mailing the volunteers, can fold, insert, address, seal, stamp, sort, and tie.
Else in the book I will mention “Use the Mary- Martha Class.” This concept is what I am referring to. With that in mind, you now realize that many of you have senior adults and several “Mary-Martha” classes in your Sunday School.
Church Members/Sunday School Members:
Mary Martha Class Project
“Mary Martha Class” helps the pastor in contact/ evangelism. —If a church is over ten years old, probably over 50 percent of its resident members are not enrolled in Bible study (Sunday School).
Do you, as a pastor, minister of education, Sunday School director, or outreach director, know how many of your church members are not enrolled in Sunday School?
In the Southern Baptist Convention, there are over fourteen million Southern Baptists. About three million plus are nonresidents, and we don’t know where they are. That leaves about eleven million resident church members.
In 1985, we reached a Sunday School enrollment of nearly eight million. Subtract preschoolers, children, youth, and adults who are not church members. This brings the Sunday School enrollment of nearly eight million down to about five-and-one-half million who are church members. Subtract that number from the approximately eleven million and you can see why I say, probably over 50 percent of your resident member ship are not members of the Sunday School,
There is only one way to find out. This is where the Mary-Martha Class can once again help the pastor and the church.
Don’t, I repeat don’t ask a secretary to compare the church roll with the Sunday School roll. Ask the volunteers of the Mary-Martha Class to come to the church one morning a week until you have completed the project.
The methodology.—Take each church member’s name and see if they are enrolled in Sunday School as a member, teacher, director, or somewhere else. If not, you have a Sunday School prospect. Fill out a prospect card.
After checking church members is completed, take the Sunday School rolls of all members twelve and older (younger if you feel led).
Check each name with the church roll to see if they are a church member. If not, place that name and ad dress on an evangelistic list. These people need to be led to the Lord.
Once you have done this, you now know exactly what percentage of your church members are not enrolled in Sunday School.
From the pulpit (the most powerful place of promotion), the pastor (the most powerful person of promotion) might say: “Good people, did you know 52 percent of our resident members are not enrolled in Sunday School. That represents 196 people who live in our community, say they are saved, born again, looking for Christ’s return, but are not in Bible study. Some of you are in the auditorium today. You need to be a member of a Sunday School class.
Take an enrollment card out of the pew rack, fill it out, and we will enroll you today’
Do this for four successive weeks and you will enroll a sizable number of unenrolled church members. You will also enroll a number of visitors.
The pastor needs to recognize the volunteers from the Sunday School class that helped discover the prospects in this project. He may ask for the volunteers to stand. He may say, “These are the people who helped your pastor in contact/evangelism done, thou good and faithful servant
After the four weeks of giving church members the opportunity to enroll in Sunday School from the main auditorium, the pastor then sends a letter to all resident members who did not enroll. (The majority of these will be people who were not in attendance the previous four weeks.) See the sample letter and response card in the section on ten ways to find prospects in the first part of this chapter.
Notice on the response card there are nine areas of Sunday School where a person could be enrolled. This gives freedom of choice. If perchance your church does not offer some of the ministries, delete from the nine and make your own response card.
Every church should have at least three of the ministries—regular Sunday School, Homebound, and Cradle Roll. People need Bible study. They are getting older and cannot come and babies are still being born.
Allow the pastor’s letter to be out for four weeks for the people to respond.
The next phase is the telephone blitz. Again, call on the Mary-Martha Class for volunteers. Divide the list of church members who as yet have not enrolled in Sunday School into groups of ten. Give each volunteer a list and ten registration record slips (form #1). Ask them to call each person the next week. The conversations would be something as follows:
“Hello (give the name of person being called), this is (give your name)from the church. As you probably know’ the church has been making a special effort to en-roll church members in Sunday School.
“Did you receive a letter from the pastor recently? ‘pause for a response,). Did you return the response card as to your choice of where you wanted to be enrolled? If you have not returned the card I can register your response right now over the telephone. (Cite the various places the person could be enrolled,)
“Where did you want to be enrolled?”
The telephone enrollment phase should be done in several weeks depending on the size of the church.
The last phase is those church members not enrolled by now are then assigned by age to a department as a prospect. A personal contact by someone in that department age group is made during the next four weeks.
Phase 1—Pastor in main auditorium endeavors to en roll for four successive weeks, enrollment cards in the pews.
Phase 2—Letter from the pastor to all church members not enrolled with response card for choice.
Phase 3—Telephone blitz by volunteers of Mary- Martha Class.
Phase 4—Assign church members as prospects to classes and departments for personal contact during last four weeks.
Small churches will take less than four months to do these. Large churches may take longer.
What are the benefits?
• You enrolled church members that are inactive.
• You discovered your evangelistic prospects.
• You put a number of senior adults into a service ministry.
• Attendance increased.
• Offering increased.
• Baptisms increased.
Youth and Young Adults Away:
Mary-Martha Class Project
Most churches have a number of older youth and young adults who are church members hut are in college, the military, or have gone to another city to make their fortunes. Whatever the reason, they are out of town. The church and Sunday School has in many aspects lost sight of them.
Consequently, when the person is back in town for a visit or summer/Christmas vacations, they feel no close ness with the church and do not attend.
A part of the fault is ours, the church. We make little or no contact with the person after they leave. Oh, we may say, “They are on the church mailing list, and they get the weekly church bulletin.” That is good, but a little distant, cold, and indifferent.
The big question is, “What could be done to give the personal touch and warmth of an individual?”
Use the Mary-Martha Class technique. Ask for volunteers to come to the church one morning a month to write a letter (on church stationery) to the youth who are away.
Prepare a list with addresses of all known “youth away.” Encourage members of the Mary-Martha Class to choose one, two, but no more than three, names from the list to write to that day at the church. The church will provide the postage.
The contents of the letter will vary. The groups of writers can discuss various things. Letters should be no more than a page and a half long.
When holidays and possibility of the youth away returning, a line in the content of the letter should be, “I would like to see you at church while you are on vacation in the city”
In a sense, the member of the Mary-Martha Class be comes a foster parent, someone who cares for them
Remember how important it was for you to receive a letter from someone when you were away.
Encourage a person away to write back to the church’s address. This gives church leaders a method to monitor the program.
Bulletins, fliers, newssheets, and other communication could also be enclosed in the letter.
A list of names and addresses of the youth away could be placed on a bulletin board in a high-traffic area, giving attention to those away Also, a list of the church members doing the writing could be posted at the bottom of the poster.
What are the benefits of this method?
• People away have a warm touch and feeling for the church,
• Senior adults are involved in a “service ministry.”
• Stronger fellowship in the writers’ groups—an “esprit de corps.”
• A feeling of “My church cares.”
Excerpted from ‘Beyond All Expectations’ By Neil E. Jackson, Jr
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”