Friday Hot Links: February 23, 2018

Thanks for following this Sunday School/groups blog. I’m really thankful that you’re part of this online community of people who have a passion for Bible study. I hope that you are being encouraged and challenged through some of these daily posts.

I’ve curated some links to blog posts from trusted friends and colleagues. I trust that you’ll enjoy reading some of these that apply to your ministry context.

I’ll see you next Monday as we begin another week on the blog. I’m planning on addressing a few more of the blog requests that came in around Christmas.

Shoulder to shoulder,

Ken Braddy

 

Posts you might like:

 

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The 3 times to delete a person from your group’s ministry list

As you lead your Bible study group, you’ll face what others have in the past: increasing numbers of people on your group’s role (ministry list). You may even consider deleting inactive people from your ministry list to boost the percent of attendance of those in your group. Please don’t.

You might ask, “Is it ever OK to delete a person from my group’s ministry list?” The answer is yes. There are three times when you should delete a person from your group’s list:

  1. Delete a person when they die. It’s safe to say they won’t be coming back to your group meeting. When a person dies, remove them from your role. They’re on a new role now.
  2. Delete a person when they ask you to. On occasion, people make a decision to leave a Bible study group and they want no further contact from the group leader or group members. If someone requests they be removed from your ministry list, do it. You can let them know how sorry you are they are leaving, but don’t keep them on the role when they’ve asked to be removed.
  3. Delete a person when they become a member of another church. When one of your group members becomes a member of another church, it’s time to delete them from your ministry list. Your mission is accomplished! You became their shepherd-teacher at some point in the past, and now they have a new church and a new group to belong to. They are now another group leader’s responsibility.

Never delete a person from your group’s ministry list because of their low attendance. Over the years, well-meaning group leaders asked me to delete people from their roles because of inactivity. My response: never! Instead of deleting people because they aren’t coming, we should see that as a reason to reach out to them, check on them, and invite them back into the group.

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3 reasons your group needs to party more

 

Parties are powerful when used the right way. They are opportunities to help group members and guests make connections with each other. Parties often serve as the social glue that holds groups together. As I watched Bible study groups in the two churches where I had responsibility for the total groups ministry, the most popular and the fastest-growing groups were the ones that had regular parties and social gatherings. Let’s face it: people like to have fun!

If your group doesn’t have a regular fellowship each month or each quarter, here are some things to think about as you consider ramping up the frequency of your parties.

3 Reasons Why Your Group Needs to Party More

  1. Parties allow you to “connect the unconnected.” Bible study groups often forget about using parties as a tool to connect new people to the group. Savvy groups invite non-members to their get-togethers, and people actually become part of the group before they officially become part of the group. People begin to connect emotionally and relationally to a Bible study group before they ever attend a single Bible study. Make it a habit to invite prospects to every party, fellowship, and gathering. Parties aren’t just for the regular attenders…they are for the “not yet members,” too.
  2. Parties allow you to reach out to chronic absentees.  You know that awkward feeling you get when your are about to send an email or call a chronic absentee, right? You ask yourself, “Will they respond negatively because I haven’t reached out to them sooner? Why didn’t I call them when they were absent the first time or two?” It’s a lot less awkward to reach out to a chronic absentee with an invitation to the group’s next fellowship. “Hey, John, just wanted you to know we’d love to have you and Jennifer come to our cookout this Saturday afternoon,” or “Just wanted to know if we can save you a spot at our bowling night?” Those phrases are much easier to say than, “Hey, we’ve noticed you’ve been absent from the group for a month…are you guys getting a divorce? Is everything OK?” Use a party as a reason to contact your chronic absentees.
  3. Parties help your group members connect on new and different levels.  When your group gets together for a party, you get to know people in ways you just can’t in a classroom or a living room. People tend to “let their hair down,” and you see a side of people you never see during your group’s Bible study. That person you had pegged as a stoic might actually turn out to be a live wire outside the group’s Bible study. You can learn a lot about people outside the group’s normal meeting time.

If your group isn’t in the habit of having regular parties, get some on the calendar! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Go bowling
  • Attend a play
  • See a movie
  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Take a short road trip
  • Visit a museum
  • Have a cookout
  • Start a supper club that meets weekly or monthly
  • Have a progressive dinner in homes of group members
  • Take a short road trip or a day trip
  • Visit a museum
  • Go to a ballgame
  • Visit a local festival (I’ve actually been to the Moon Pie Festival, a Banana Pudding Festival, and a Fainting Goat Festival)…and they were all fun and gave us excuses to share part of our Saturday

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5 reasons to use name tags in your Bible study group

I love name tags. I taught an adult Bible study group at my church in middle Tennessee for six years, and every Sunday my wife and I laid name tags on each chair. Guests wore them. Group members wore them. I wore them. Here are four reasons you should use name tags in your Bible study group:

  1. Name tags are inexpensive. There is no barrier to entry! Any group can afford to “get tagged.” Buy a package at your local Wal-Mart or office supply store. They are just a couple of dollars.
  2. Name tags build a culture of expectancy. The chief reason your group members should fill out name tags when they meet is out of an expectancy that a guest (or guests) may take part in the Bible study, and they won’t know people’s names. Name tags remind the group members that the group exists to reach others. Too many groups have forgotten this and mistakenly believe that the group exists to serve them and meet their needs. Name tags silently remind group members “We may have guests today – and should have guests.”
  3. Name tags can be used during the teaching time. It’s easy to take a few colored markers and place a dot in one corner of each name tag. During the study, the group leader can ask people to group up by colored dot in order to answer questions or work on a quick assignment. Or you could divide the group into two groups – one with the people who wrote their names in cursive, the other with people who printed their name. Or you could divide the group based on the color of the marker they use to fill out their name.
  4. Name tags are great equalizers. Guests feel awkward enough as it is when they visit your Bible study group. Wearing a name tag means they can call people by name, and vice-versa.
  5. Name tags create conversational community. Have you noticed that if people don’t know one another’s names, they say things like, “Hello brother!” and “What’s up, guy?” Or worse yet, they don’t say anything at all because they don’t know what to call the other person. But if people are wearing name tags, they feel less awkward about starting a conversation since they can call the other person by name.

Do yourself and your group a favor – buy a package or two of name tags and start wearing them every time you come together for Bible study. You’ll be really glad you did. And so will they.

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One Great Reason to Clear the Clutter

Mondays on the blog are about sending you an excerpt from a book on Sunday School, groups, or general leadership principles. Today I’ve chosen to go to a book titled Great Expectations to share with you a paragraph from the author. In it he talks about how expensive clutter is. Hopefully, you’ll never see it again in the same way you may have in the past. Churches tend to accumulate pianos, couches, tables, and other things that the church has either purchased or members have donated. Just how expensive are those items to the church? Getting something for free doesn’t necessarily make it free. Consider this:

“Perhaps nothing squeezes against the psychology of invitation like clutter. Clutter is expensive! Wayne Poling, a Sunday School Specialist at LifeWay and the compiler of The Sunday School How-To Manual, tells about using a tile square to demonstrate how expensive clutter can be. Let’s say new construction is priced at one hundred dollars per square foot. Take the square foot of the tile and carry it around the building with you. How much is the space under the broken pool table costing you? The space under the inefficient old sofas in the youth lounge: The space under the inoperable computers that people have donated to the church?”

So let’s do some quick calculations based on the warning from the author about the real cost of clutter. Every table in a classroom costs something; let’s say that a table measures 3 ft. X 6 ft., or 18 square feet. Every table in a classroom is sitting on top of education space that is valued at $1800 (18 sq. ft X $100 per square foot of construction costs). Now imagine if a classroom has 4 tables for adults to use…that’s almost $6000 of floor space!!

A donated couch in the student ministry area is approximately 4 ft. X 6 ft., or 24 square feet. That old run-down couch is sitting on top of $2400 worth of education space! Clutter is expensive – it’s better to rid your rooms of clutter and use the space to place people in Bible study.

How expensive is the clutter at your church? You might be surprised how expensive it is for your classrooms to hold junk that could be thrown away in order to place chairs (and people) into Bible study groups.

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Friday Hot Links – February 16, 2018

It’s been a great week here on the blog – new people have signed up, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting with Bible study leaders out West in Salt Lake City, Utah. Thankful that God’s Word is being taught in all kinds of churches all over our country. It’s energizing to see group leaders come together for training and encouragement!

Here are some hot links to blog posts from friends and colleagues I think you’ll enjoy reading. Have a great end of your week, and I’ll see you again next Monday!

Shoulder to shoulder,

Ken Braddy

 

Posts you might like:

3 Ways to Lead from the Second Chair

Just before Christmas, I asked you to shout out some possible topics for me to address in 2018. Today is one of those posts!

John Harris, a pastor in the Nashville area, requested that I tease out a topic that affects many of you who are on church staff. The subject: What is the relationship between a senior pastor and his staff?

This is a very relevant topic, John, so thanks for asking for a blog post on it – it will be the first time I’ve addressed it! I’m going to approach this from the other side of the staff – from the staff member’s perspective. Here we go…

3 Ways to Lead from the Second Chair

I’ve served on church staff in the past – 18 years worth, and now I’m in a part-time role on a church staff in my area as an education pastor. I’m responsible for helping a church grow its Sunday School/groups ministry. And I’m back in a “second chair” role in the church.

A second chair leader is just what it sounds like – a person who has a significant leadership role, but is not the #1 senior leader. That’s most of us! So if you are in a second chair role, it’s mission critical that you lead well from the second chair, and there are 3 things you must do if you are going to relate well to the person in the #1 chair (your pastor).

I refer you to the book titled Leading from the Second Chair. The author cites 3 paradoxes that second chair leaders must deal with daily. If you can navigate these, you can relate well to your pastor, and he to you.

  • Subordinate-Leader: The first paradox may be the most difficult one to navigate. As a second chair leader, you are not going to be in the driver’s seat – that privilege belongs to another person, your first-chair leader. There will be times you disagree with your #1 chair’s decision on a matter. You may not like the person. You might even be a better leader than your first chair – but it doesn’t matter. Your role and your job is to provide support for your first chair. That’s the subordinate part of your role – and when you accept and get comfortable with the fact that you’re not going to sit in the “captain’s chair,” you’ll be a happier, healthier staff member. But then there is the other side of the paradox – you’re not just a subordinate, but you’re also a leader! You have people who look to you for leadership and guidance. You may be responsible for a significant portion of your church’s ministries. Support staff may report to you. Volunteers no doubt, do. So you live in a dual role of leader (where there are times you actually do sit in the #1 leadership chair – but a chair that sits in your ministry area!), and you are also a subordinate to the first chair. If you cannot figure out your subordinate role, your pastor isn’t going to keep you on staff, nor should he.  We are all in submission to someone!
  • Deep-Wide: This second paradox has to do with your requirement to lead from the second chair. You must see across the organization and how your particular function affects others and other ministries. You cannot work in a void. Your #1 chair needs you to manage your area, but also be sensitive to the overall organization. So at times you’re going to “go wide” and see the big picture of ministries taking place in the church. At other times, you must drill down on the specifics and the details of your ministry assignment – no one should know this ministry area better than you! And by the way, your #1 chair probably will never fully understand all the nuances of your work as a #2 chair leader, and that’s ok. That’s why he has you on staff.
  • Contentment-Dreaming: The final paradox is one that you should share with your #1 chair. You’ll be a happier staff leader if you are content in your role and can see how God is using you and your ministry to make an impact on people. Be content in developing others. Be content in difference you’re making. Be content being a helper to your #1 chair. BUT…dream also! Where do you want to be in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? Do you want to move up? Do you want to pursue schooling and more formal education? How do you want to see your ministry area expand and grow? What are your dreams? Your pastor, if he knows these, can often help you achieve them. So share them! You’ll both be glad you did.

Thanks, John, for your question and request. I hope this touched on a few things that will be helpful in your ministry context!

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