TWO FOR ONE
By: Richard Tribble Jr.
In the past two issues of Growing Churches we discussed the establishment of the prospect file and outlined how to use the newspaper and telephone to locate prospects. It’s now time to put into action what we have learned to help us build two Sunday School departments at the same time–the nursery and Young Adult Sunday School. After all, babies don’t come to Sunday School alone; Mom and Dad must bring them.
If you have been using the information contained in our two previous articles, you already should have listed in your prospect file several young couples who have had babies during the past 6 to 12 months. In case you haven’t, let’s start from scratch.
Obtain copies of your community newspaper for the past 12 months. Focus your attention on the birth announcements. Create a prospect card for each newborn. Write down the newborns’ names, birth dates, parents’ names, siblings’ names, and other family members’ names listed. Create separate prospect cards for grandparents. Be sure to list your source of information.
Announcements sometimes indicate church affiliation. This information can help you eliminate those who are not prospects.
Locate the address and telephone number of the newborn’s parents. This can be done in one of the following ways:
* Consult the telephone book. If the parents’ names are not listed, call information to determine if a listing exists.
* Check the phone book for another family member mentioned in the article. You may be able to locate the new parents and reach new prospects for Sunday School and church ministries as well.
* Ask the photographer who took the baby’s pictures at the hospital to help locate couples who live in your church area. He may not give you their names and addresses; but for a minimal fee, he may let you include information about your church in the photograph package he mails to them. It’s worth checking out.
One church uses this arrangement to mail out an offer to each family of a free family Bible. All the family has to do is send in the enclosed postcard. Once the postcard is received by the church, a visit is scheduled to deliver the Bible, complete a family-information card, and inform parents of the church’s ministries which could be of help to parents and child.
* Ask members who know these young couples to help you obtain their addresses and phone numbers.
* Ask the new parents you contact if they know any of the new parents you still are trying to locate. They often will know other young couples in town who have had babies recently.
You now should have several prospects’ names for your nursery and Young Adult departments. Now recruit help for the next phase of your outreach ministry.
Recruit at least two nursery workers and two young-adult workers who will help with your Cradle Roll, nursery, or Young Adult departments.
No matter how long your volunteers have been active in church, take a couple of hours to train them to visit. You won’t regret it. Explain why they will visit, what is hoped will be accomplished, and how to present the plan of salvation.
Pray with these special workers at the beginning of this outreach activity, after each session, and during the ministry. Pray specifically for them, their prospects, and the specific needs of all involved.
Cultivate Your Prospects Lovingly
Cultivate your prospects in the following ways:
1. Visit them at home. Call new parents for appointments. This will save time and avoid possible embarrassment.
2.Talk with the new parents about their baby and about the changes he/she has brought into their lives, and any problems that have resulted.
3. Share how your church can help them. Focus first on ministries for the baby. New parents are most interested in their baby’s development. You should be, too.
Then zero in on the parents’ needs. Emphasize they will be in a Bible-study group with other new parents who are experiencing the same problems.
4. Send a handwritten letter of encouragement after the visit. Tell them you will pray for them and their family. Invite them again to church, and give them a tract.
Why a handwritten letter? Marketing specialists tell us people more likely will open and read handwritten envelopes and letters. Handwritten letters show we care for them individually.
5. Follow up with a telephone call. Make sure the family received the letter. Assure them again of your continued prayers, and encourage them to attend Sunday services.
Continue visiting, writing, and calling as long as the family is receptive to your efforts to bring them to Jesus Christ.
Appearances are everything. Obtain the best possible nursery equipment to care for families’ physical needs. The nursery should be clean and neat every Sunday. No parent, especially a new mother, will leave her child in a dirty, unkept, and poorly staffed environment.
Have new parents fill out information cards when they bring their babies to the nursery the first time. The card should include the baby’s name, parents’ names, and instructions for caring for the baby. Tag all babies’ diaper bags for easy identification.
The parents’ classroom also should be well-prepared. Name tags and refreshments will help break the ice and ensure a friendly, warm atmosphere.
New parents are struggling with a host of overwhelming problems. They want answers and encouragement. They want to be assured they are not the only ones suffering from sleepless nights and anxiety.
Each visit with a newborn’s parents will enable you to minister to a family. Each newborn you enroll in Sunday School will help enroll two young adults. In other words, you will add three new members to two departmental units in one visit. What outstanding results!
(The above material appeared in the July/Aug./Sept. issue of the Growing Churches magazine.)
Christian Information Network