Every church has them – “those people.” They’re the ones who, for whatever reason, attend worship only. Adults may hustle their kids off to a Sunday School class while they attend the worship service, only to pick up their kids and leave the campus after being there just over an hour. Some families have figured out how to really streamline their Sunday morning experience. How do you encourage these “worship only” adults to move from being worship attenders to being members of a Bible study group?
- The pastor must regularly mention Sunday School’s importance from the pulpit – Pastors like Johnny Hunt and Vance Pitman tell their congregations, “If you have just one hour to give on Sundays, attend a Bible study group, not the worship service.” That’s powerful encouragement from the most recognized leader in the church! If something is important to the pastor, it becomes important to the congregation.
- Start new groups – New groups are much easier places for newer people to get connected to others. As you intentionally begin new groups, make a big deal of it from the pulpit and let everyone know who the target audience is for the group. Send a mailer to anyone on the church role who has not been attending their Bible study group recently.
- Start a pastor’s class – The goal is not for the pastor to retain people over the long-haul, but to funnel them into existing Bible study groups. Sometimes guests or irregular attenders feel a certain affinity for the pastor, and if he were to start a group, they’d attend.
- Emphasize a church-wide study – If your church uses an ongoing curriculum series like mine does, it makes it easy to identify the start of a new study and your desire to have every adult in the study for the next 4, 6, or 8 weeks. It helps even more if the pastor preaches a sermon series that complements the studies offered in Bible study groups. If it feels like a big deal to the church, many of those “worship only” adults will commit to attend a group during the special emphasis time. The good news? The majority will stay with the group they visit during that church-wide study!