One of the central components of a strong, growing church is a solid adult Bible class program. Regardless of the age or life stage of the adults in your church, they desire and need to be included and accepted.
Adult Bible classes (sometimes called “Sunday school classes” or “adult Bible fellowships” here at Lancaster Baptist Church), in particular, have a vital role in the growth of the church. They are critical in teaching God’s Word, caring for spiritual needs, nurturing the entire church body, and evangelizing the lost world.
Perhaps the most important people in the adult department are the class leaders or teachers. The adult Bible class leader will represent the Lord before the members of the class. In addition, the adult Bible class leader should assure the class of the heart of the pastor for each class member and must be someone who understands the heart and the philosophy of the pastor.
The teachers of adult Bible classes provide a multiplicity of leadership to support the pastoral staff of the church. These teachers should be available to their class for counseling, answering Bible questions, and helping with other spiritual needs as they arise. Many new Christians may hesitate to schedule an appointment with the pastor over a minor issue, but they will gladly ask a question of their teacher.
The goal of every teacher should be to properly oversee the needs of his class members. To do this, he must be aware of their needs and patterns of attendance. Without a knowing the pulse of his class a leader can miss various opportunities to effectively serve.
Years ago when I was just starting out teaching an adult Bible class, I asked an experienced pastor about his follow up practices for his class. I was trying to develop my own follow up routines and wanted to become more effective. I am definitely still learning, but I wanted to share some habits I have developed that have tremendously helped me minister to my class.
Every Monday my office produces what we call a “weekly snapshot.” It provides our teachers with one document that helps them keep the pulse on their class.
The weekly snapshot includes the first-time guests, one-week absentees, two-week absentees, three-week absentees, and a discipleship update.
The top section lists first time guests to the class. It includes their contact information from the card they filled out in class. Our teachers are encouraged to personally visit these people. (See my article: How to Make an Effective Follow Up Visit for practical follow up ideas.)
The first week absentee section lists all the people who missed class on Sunday but were in attendance the Sunday before. We encourage our teachers to write a note and let them know they were missed and are being prayed for.
The second week absentee section lists all the people who missed class on Sunday and it was their second absence in a row. We encourage our teachers to send a postcard at the beginning of the week and to make a phone call later in the week. This personal touch helps to understand why someone has missed two weeks in a row and is a great opportunity to encourage them to return.
The third week absentee section lists all of the people who missed class on Sunday and it was their third week in a row to be absent. We encourage our teacher to go and visit these absentees personally. Usually if someone has missed three weeks in a row, there is a reason or a small problem the teacher can often help resolve and encourage that person to return to class and church.
The last section is the discipleship section. This lists everyone from that class who is enrolled in our discipleship program. It shows the teacher who from their class is enrolled in the weekly discipleship ministry, when they started, when they last met with their disciple, and what lesson they are on. We encourage our teachers to encourage those from their class to be faithful to discipleship.
This is a simple tool but it is one I use every week of my life. I pray over it and do my best to faithfully follow these action items each week. I pray this tool will be a blessing to you as well.