This is part three in a series on the benefits of enrollment. Be sure to read part one, Enrollment = Growth, and part two, Open Enrollment: Three Misunderstandings and Three Realities as well.
The following are two portraits that demonstrate some of the ways in which enrollment can work for a Sunday School program.
Portrait 1: Gene
Gene is retired and enjoys woodwork. He can and will talk to anyone. While attending a Sunday School training event, he became intrigued by the idea of enrolling anyone anywhere. The person leading the training had used the term “enrollment,” causing Gene to think about his daily conversations. He decided to carry some enrollment cards with him and see if he could enroll people he met while waiting in line at the local super store.
He picked a line and started a conversation with the couple in front of him. Before long, the conversation turned to the Bible, and he offered to enroll the couple in a Bible study group at his church. To his amazement, they agreed to do so. After checking out, he went straight to the church office to pass on the information. Then he went back to the store, bought some donuts, and enrolled another person.
Later that day, he made sure that the leaders of the appropriate class contacted the people he enrolled. In that first month, he enrolled more than thirty people in a Bible study class. Only one couple of that number was in his class. Of those he enrolled that first month, 13 accepted Christ over the next 18 months. Gene wondered about the impact he could have had if he had learned to enroll people earlier in his life.
Portrait 2: Mark
Mark was the greeter for his Sunday School class. He greeted everyone as they arrived, but he paid special attention to guests. He introduced himself and spent time getting to know the guests so he could introduce them to others in the class. Instead of asking guests to complete a guest registration form, he began asking guests if they wanted to enroll in the class. He carefully explained that he wasn’t asking them to join the church, just the class. He shared with them how being a member would ensure that there would always be a place for them, that they would receive Bible study resources in the future, and that they would be added to the care group system where they would find a supportive prayer team.
If they told him no, he would still take their information but noted that they desired to remain guests. If they said yes, he made sure they were celebrated. This class began to grow, adding new people on a regular basis. They would eventually start a new class with Mark as the greeter.
Both of these men discovered the value of enrolling people. They viewed everyone as a potential member of a Bible study group. Their actions helped their Sunday School and church reach people with the gospel message. They know some people they enrolled will never make a decision for Christ, but they also know many will. They can’t tell at first meeting who will accept Christ and who will not, so they choose to treat everyone like they will by offering them the opportunity to enroll in a Bible study group.
Both men realized that offering a person the opportunity to be a member of a Bible study group is a great first step that potentially leads to more steps, including accepting the gospel. Just as it did to Arthur Flake the businessman, open enrollment just makes good business sense to Gene and Mark.
How have you seen enrollment used as an effective tool for reaching people with the gospel?
In the final post of this series, we’ll discuss the most common excuses for not practicing enrollment and how to address them.
G. Dwayne McCrary is a project team leader for ongoing adult Bible study resources at Lifeway. He also teaches an adult group and preschool group every Sunday in the church he attends.