By Ken Braddy
Not only does fall signal the kickoff of football season, but it means a new season of ministry for churches. Fall marks the kickoff of Bible study groups and a focused time of fellowship, study, and ministry.
“Kickoff” is an appropriate term for what happens in Bible study groups during the months of August and September. Many groups begin again after taking time off during the summer. New groups are established. And year-round groups continue their practice of meeting weekly.
Each of these types of groups benefit from kicking off a new season of Bible study. Whether a group meets year-round or seasonally, here are a few ways for group leaders to prepare for the kickoff of post-summer studies.
1. Attend “training camp.”
No team takes the field in the fall without having gone through an intense time of preparation at training camp. During training camp, seasoned veterans practice alongside rookies in order to improve their performance and prepare for the season ahead.
As a group leader, look for a training opportunity or two prior to the kickoff of your fall Bible study. LifeWay has excellent regional training events (TRANSFORM, Groups Matter, The National Sunday School Director’s Seminar).
Or perhaps your church provides an annual training event that kicks off your fall studies. Take advantage of these opportunities.
2. Scout your prospects.
Every team has scouting coaches who scour the nation in search of new players for the team. Prior to the kickoff of your fall Bible study, take time to search for prospective new group members.
You can find them in your church’s worship service. Look for those who attend the worship service but aren’t connected to a group. You can also ask your church staff for a list of guests who are similar in age and life stage to the members of your group.
A good rule of thumb is to have one prospect for every group member in attendance. A group of 15 people needs a prospect list of at least 15 people they are constantly encouraging to belong to the group.
3. Blitz your absentees.
If you lead an ongoing group that meets year-round, you know all too well how difficult summer can be on your group’s attendance. As you kick off a new season of Bible study, be sure to aggressively blitz your absentees.
Any person with attendance below 50 percent should be contacted. Email and phone calls are easy and fast, but chronic absentees may need a personal visit.
4. Schedule a tailgate party. Tailgate parties give people a reason to gather and spend some relational time together. As your Bible study group kicks off, be sure to take a clue from football fans and learn the importance of having fun.
Schedule a social event at the beginning of your new Bible study season. Give people an easy way to reconnect if they’ve been absent. Don’t forget to include those prospects you’re blitzing!
5. Prepare for the arrival of fans.
Professional football teams spend their off-season painting and renovating their stadiums. As a Bible study group leader, be sure to spend some time updating the place you meet, especially if it’s on the church campus.
Sprucing up a room with a new coat of paint, having carpets cleaned, and giving a room a good de-cluttering ensures that when your “fans” arrive, they’ll find a nice environment in which to have their Bible study.
6. Get people off the sidelines.
Group leaders are the team coach of their small group or Sunday school class. And coaches need assistant coaches to take on portions of the work. It’s similar to the model Moses used when he was “coached” by his father-in-law, Jethro in Exodus 18.
Delegate responsibilities to your group members. Turn them into greeters, assistant teachers, fellowship and prayer leaders, and ministry coordinators.
The kickoff of the fall Bible study season is coming, ready or not. If you practice the six things mentioned above, you’ll be ready for the start of the game.
For church leaders looking for help in selecting the right Bible study for their small group, Ken Braddy wrote: “How to Choose the Right Bible Study for Your Church.”
KEN BRADDY manages LifeWay’s adult ongoing Bible studies. He is a group leader at his church in Tennessee. Follow his Sunday school/groups blog at KenBraddy.com.