New People, New Classes

June 13th, 2011

“We're friendly. We always welcome visitors."

Most people who attend Sunday school would say that they welcome new people. Sometimes new people will join the class because of the warmth of those who welcome them. However, it is often challenging for new people to feel like "part of the family" because they do not share the history of the class. A newcomer may settle into an existing class fine if he or she is outgoing, friendly, and eager to make new friends. People who are quieter or more introverted may be intimidated by the process of getting acquainted. These issues are minimized when everyone in the group is a newcomer.

Regularly forming new adult classes will reinvigorate Sunday school more than you can imagine by providing a way for new members--and old members who aren't involved in Sunday school--to get in on the ground level. New classes are, after all, about offering opportunities for people to encounter God's life-transforming love through Jesus Christ. While starting new classes is a time-proven way to engage new people in the life of a church family, the task can feel overwhelming.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Pray. Seek God's wisdom and guidance as you think about beginning a new class on Sunday morning.
  • Identify a need. Use conversation, phone calls, surveys, e-mail, and other communication tools to determine what faith questions people have (issues people would like to know about.) What needs do the people have? What challenges them or makes them curious? What would help them as they live life from day to day? People in our culture are extraordinarily busy. In order for them to give time to something, it must be meaningful or relevant.
  • Decide how long the group will meet. People are more likely to commit to a short-term, small-group study than to a long-term study. Having a definite date that the group will begin and end will appeal to busy people. Often, participation in a short-term study will lead to involvement in a long-term or ongoing class. You can always ask the group if they want to continue with another study and get their ideas.
  • Choose resources to meet the need. Look at materials that address the needs you have identified and choose one for a new group. Check with your pastor, director of Christian Education, or a small group leader for recommendations on studies. Or try the Curriculum Finder on Ministry Matters.
  • Make a list of persons to invite to the new group, including some people who have been at the church for a while but are not currently involved in an adult class. Be sure and invite roughly twice as many people as you expect to attend. (Your group will be great and all, but unfortunately not everyone will come.)
  • Invite people to the class. It is not enough to simply place an announcement on the screen in worship, on the website, or in the church bulletin. Promote the new group in as many other ways as possible. Contact and invite people personally, you could even send a personalized note or postcard.
  • Pray. Thank God for the opportunity to reach new people through new adult small groups.
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