Throughout the Bible God uses the farmer as an illustration of our work as Christians. It is a great illustration of God’s work, because only God can grow the crops in the field. He must supply the sunshine and rain and only He can bring a dead seed to life. And yet, the farmer also has certain responsibilities. In the work of God, there are things that only God can do. Only God can save a person and cause him to grow in Christ. God must supply the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and draw the person to Christ. Only God can make a spiritually dead person come to life. And yet, we as Christians have certain responsibilities, like the farmer, to do our part in the harvest.
As a Sunday School leader, you may have a desire to see your class grow. You long to see people saved and become committed disciples. You want to see them connect with others in real fellowship and connect with God in real worship. But what is your part? Is teaching a good lesson enough to reach people for Jesus, or is there more we can do? I’ve been thinking on that question and I’d like to share some thoughts.
1. We can work our prospects. Every time someone visits your class from the nearby community, that person becomes a prospect for your class. Every time a person, who is in the age range of your class, visits our church, she is a prospect for your class. Every time you strike up a conversation with a person at the gas pump or in the line at the grocery store or in the bleachers of a little league game, there is a prospect. Research tells us that most unchurched people would visit a church if invited by a friend. I think that demonstrates that believers are more reluctant to invite people than lost people are reluctant to attend!
2. We can make regular contacts with our enrollees. There is a place for FaceBook contacts, text messages and email invitations, but the reality is this; the more personal the contact, the more likely the person will attend. A face to face contact is more personal than a phone call. A phone call is more personal than a postcard, etc. When we contact our enrollees—especially our absentees—it is important to have a reason for the contact other than, “We missed you.” We can call to get an update on a prayer concern. We can text to remind people of the passage we are studying on the coming Sunday. We can make a visit to hand out the new quarterly. We can send a post card to remind people of a special fellowship or ministry project. Growth never happens by accident. Someone is always making the needed sacrifices for growth to occur.
3. We can take initiative to enroll new people. Occasionally, a teacher will say something like, “Can I drop Sally from my roll? She only comes twice a year and I like to have 100% participation!” That is really a misunderstanding of the Sunday School roll. It is great to have semi-active people on every class roll. Your enrollees are your ministerial responsibility as a class. These people become your ministry list. When one of them hurts, we hurt with them. They are the people we serve. We do not have to wait three weeks to enroll someone. If they are driving distance from the church, take the initiative to enroll them and see them as valued members.
There are at least three other things we can do to help grow our class and our Sunday School ministry. We will look at those [Friday, June 23], but for now suffice it to say that God blesses hard work. God can grow a field of sweet corn without the farmer’s help, but generally, without the farmer, the field will just grow weeds. That’s not to take credit for what only God can do, but it is a reminder that God enjoys working through us and involving us in His harvest.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon