Sunday School Outreach
“Say Coach, this Outreach stuff is a whole lot like visitation.” “Yep, you’re startin’ to get the picture. Now let’s DO IT!”
Jesus said, “On the basis of My authority, as you are going, make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things I have taught you and I’ll be with you even to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:18–20.
We are commanded and commissioned to build a team of Great Commission disciples, missionaries, and team members to defeat the enemy of the Kingdom by winning to faith in Christ one lost person at a time. We are then to assimilate them into an ongoing Bible Study, Sunday School class, where they can be encouraged, nurtured and brought to spiritual maturity. This sounds good. It even sounds like something every coach can do. But, just how do we do it effectively?
We follow the simple plan put forth in Scripture and do it correctly. Just like a football team, teach the basics, master the basics, and then put them into practice. Jesus used a simple, yet profound strategy of evangelism. He modeled His plan before 12 men over and over again until they caught the plan, then He sent them out two by two to carry out what He had taught them. When they came back overwhelmed with the results, He reassured them and sent them out again. The result is what we know as the New Testament church.
Another outstanding coach, Arthur Flake, began and concluded his “Flake’s Formula for Sunday School Growth” with the basics.
1) Know your potential — Who and where are the prospects for your Sunday School?
2) Enlarge your ministry — Where can you begin new units?
3) Equip the people — Prepare your people for ministry.
4) Provide the environment — What space is available?
5) Go after the people — Enroll the prospects.
KNOW YOUR POTENTIAL Where can you find prospects for your Sunday School and what do you do with them when you find them? There are countless ways of finding people in your community who are not presently attending Sunday School on a regular basis. Some of those may be your own church members.
EVERY RESIDENT MEMBER OF YOUR CHURCH SHOULD BE ENROLLED IN SUNDAY SCHOOL. If they are not enrolled, call them and ask them to be enrolled. It will surprise you that some have never been asked. Here are just a few other ways you can discover prospects.
1) A community telephone survey. You can get names and addresses from a “criss-cross” telephone directory. Develop a simple questionnaire asking personal information about their involvement in Bible Study/Sunday School. Make it sound personal. Tell them you are concerned for them and their needs. Many will respond positively.
2) A walking community survey. Select a neighborhood around your church. Send a letter to let them you know will be coming within a certain period of time. Use a similar questionnaire as above to determine their involvement in Bible Study/Sunday School. Take something with you from your church as a gift. Show personal interest. Many can be enrolled immediately.
3) Gather names from special events like concerts, Vacation Bible School, Fall Festival, Wild Game Suppers, Ladies’ events, and Men’s events, just to name a few.
4) Newcomer list. Local agencies like Welcome Wagon will gladly provide names of newcomers to your area for a small fee. Local utility companies will let you gather names if you tell them your purpose. Write a welcome letter to those families you discover and include a response card or call them with an invitation. They are waiting to hear.
5) Enlist folks to check the paper for birth announcements. Call with congratulations and ask the new parents if they are attending Sunday School.
6) FRAN Prospects— Friends Relatives, Associates (co-workers) Neighbors. Have a special emphasis such as “I know a prospect for Sunday School.” Ask your members to submit names of people they know who are not presently attending Sunday School.
7) Worship and Sunday School guests. Ask them on their first visit if they would like to be enrolled in Sunday School. Continue asking every time they come until they agree to be enrolled or request that you don’t ask them anymore.
Organize every prospect’s name by age according to your Sunday School organization. This file should be kept in the Sunday School office and kept up to date. These names can be duplicated and given to the appropriate age class, but the names of individuals in the Master file should be kept until the individual is enrolled or tells you they are not interested.
Every class should keep a prospect roll just as they keep a membership roll. The activity regarding this roll should be kept up to date. These names should be assigned on a weekly basis and reported on a weekly basis. The reporting can be a celebration, especially when the prospect is introduced as a new member on Sunday morning.
GO AFTER THE PEOPLE Take a look at this picture for organization, involvement, follow-through, and results.
This plan works if you work the plan. It fails if the files are not kept up to date. It fails if you do not keep active prospects in the file. It fails if the prospects names are kept in your Bible and never contacted. But if you DO these things, it will work regardless of the location and size of the church. How do you accomplish such a challenge?
ENLIST THE RIGHT TEAM
True enough, there are some folks who just love outreach. AND, they are in your church. They can be easily enlisted, equipped, and encouraged to do the work. You can pray for them, find them, ask them, equip them and great results will follow. There are many training strategies to use like F.A.I.T.H., G.R.O.W., the “NET”, Evangelism Explosion, the Roman Road to Salvation, etc. which work great. Just adapt the one that works for your church and DO IT.
You will need to enlist a Sunday School Outreach Leader to coordinate the outreach ministry for the entire Sunday Sunday School. That individual will assist you in planning, conducting, and evaluating the outreach activities for your Sunday School.
Every Adult and Youth class needs to have an Outreach Leader as well. Your Teachers and Activity Leaders in Children and Preschool classes serve as Outreach leaders.
What are the basic things these folks do? They love people. They encourage people. They motivate people. They get involved with people to lead them to Christ.
It is important to contact your prospects soon, especially if they have been guests in your church. It is important to contact guests within 72 hours of their visit with you. This could be by phone, personal visit, or letter. A personal contact is always best and makes a more lasting impression. This contact can be made by the pastor or staff, but is best if made by a member of the Sunday School class of which they would attend. All prospects should be assigned through the age group into which they fit as a basic plan. Others may be assigned to special interest groups as they fit best. Whatever the process, the objective is the same. Make a personal contact and seek to meet the needs of the individuals by getting them involved in your caring, ministering fellowship and Bible Study.
Once the contact is made, the results need to be reported to the Class Outreach Leader and shared with the class. The Class Outreach Leader will then give the results to the Sunday School Outreach Leader, who updates the Master file.
You have the prospects. You have the team. You have the strategy. Now it is time to get out of the huddle and get in the game. “As you go, make disciples….and lo, I am with you.” Matt. 28:19, 20.
The above article, “Sunday School Outreach” was written by Kiely Young. The article was excerpted from A Coaches Guide To Sunday School” – Sunday School Outreach by Kiely Young. Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. Used by Permission. September 2017.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
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.”