Mondays are always book excerpt days here on the blog, and for today’s post I’ve reached back to 1984. It was 32 years ago that the book Bible Teaching For Adults Through the Sunday School was first published. It’s what I call “an oldie but a goodie.” Many of the principles in the book are timeless and apply today.
I grinned when I read the following (shall I say “prophetic”?) passage from the book. Remember that the following words were written Ronald Reagan was president.
Adults may not always attend. Because the adult learner participates in learning voluntarily and is subject to many pressures and demands from vocation, home, society, and even church, attendance at learning sessions may be irregular, if not spasmodic. The overall stability, strength of character, and Christian commitment level will influence consistency in attendance. But leaders must face the fact that even the most committed are often hindered. Patience is required.
So, evidently times haven’t changed much…or maybe they have. It depends upon how regular the people in your Bible study attend the sessions these days. A general rule of thumb is that 50% of the people on your group’s ministry list will be in attendance each time your group gathers for Bible study. Here are a few implications for you and your group because of people’s irregular attendance patterns:
- It’s going to be hard to have a fully functioning group leadership team each week. If you’ve ever enlisted people to serve as an outreach leader, fellowship leader, prayer leader, or ministry leader, you know how hard it is to have your whole team present each week. It just won’t happen. This makes a traditional approach to the group leadership team difficult. Because of people’s irregular attendance these days, the group leader must be a master at coordinating the group’s sessions each week and those things that will be emphasized by the leadership team, depending on which members of the team are present.
- Like the book said, you’ve got to be patient! While your attendance pattern may be consistent as the group’s leader, don’t expect everyone else to rise to your level. It would be great if they would, and it’s certainly a goal to strive for, but don’t let people’s absences get you down, and by all means, don’t let their irregularity cause you to second guess your leadership abilities.
- Because of people’s irregularity, providing them with an ongoing curriculum is even more important. “Discipleship shouldn’t take a week off.” Because people struggle to attend their Bible study groups, it’s a great strategy to provide each person in the group with their own personal study guide. The PSG makes certain that people who are absent can self-feed, and can keep up with the group even when they are absent.