NASHVILLE (BP) – For years, people tried to crack some closely guarded secrets. For example:
Let’s remove one item from that list: the secret to getting new people into a Bible study group. The amazing thing about this secret is that it hides in plain sight.
So what is the secret? The secret is in this story that goes back over a century.
A scandal broke in Chicago regarding a prominent man and a woman of dubious character. Foster Coates, the editor of The American, wanted a picture of the woman, but none could be found. He sent multiple men out to secure a photo, but they all came back empty-handed. The day was closing, and they needed to send the paper to press. Coates spotted a young man who had just been hired and was in training. In desperation, he asked this young man to see if he could get a photo.
The young man was back in an hour with a photo. Amazed, Coates asked the rookie reporter to tell the others how he got the photo. “I went to her house, rang the doorbell and asked the lady for a photograph. She gave it to me.”
This story contains a great principle I’ve applied to a lot of things – especially my Bible study groups.
Go to the person and ask.
But that’s no secret at all! True, but based on the frequency of people raising the question of how to get more people into their groups, apparently not everyone sees it. When I was the director of Bible studies at my church, one of the group leaders asked me, “I know our church has people who visit every week. Can you help me get them into my Sunday School class?”
I just raised one question in reply. “Have you asked them?” (Cue the cricket chirps.)
Look for people who visit your church’s worship service or special events, people who match the age or affinity group you lead. Introduce yourself, tell them about your group and invite them to participate.
With this invitation, you or one of the group members can offer to pick them up. If the group meets at the church, the group member can meet them at a certain entrance, walk with them to the room and sit with them.
Sunday School leader Ken Braddy suggests giving prospective group members a copy of what your group is studying. Doing this reduces anxiety around what will be talked about when they actually visit the group. They can read ahead, feel prepared and know what the group is going to be talking about. Plus, putting a book in their hands affirms that your group has a purpose, that you are headed somewhere, that you want them to join in, and that now is a good time for them to start.
So in a nutshell, here’s my secret recipe for getting new people involved.
It’s that simple.