The Bible study groups in your church fall in one of two categories:
1. You take the summer off.
2. Your groups meet year-round but experience a drop in attendance in the summer.
Either way, Fall arrives with a return to school and regular schedules, so it’s a great time for people to get involved in a group. They’re making adjustments back into a routine and are more likely to jump into a group. This also means it’s a great time to launch new groups and promote the groups you’ve already got.
But how do we get people connected and involved in a Bible study? Getting people plugged into a group involves a little more than a generic “Ya’ll come” announcement from the pulpit and in the church newsletter. To promote Bible study groups, you need to give people three things.
1. Give them information. Think like someone who has never been in a small group or Sunday School. He has no idea what happens. Is it a lecture? Will I be expected to talk? Is this some kind of support group where I’ll have to share my feelings? How much of the Bible do I need to know?
• Create a brochure describing the groups. Include information about where they meet, what they study, and the general makeup of the group (young families, primarily empty nesters, and so forth.) If your groups meet at the church, include a map. Don’t assume if you say “We meet in the fellowship hall,” visitors know where the fellowship hall is. I attend a smaller church with five Life Groups for adults. My brochure includes a map so no guesswork is involved for finding a group. Give everyone a brochure.
• Use social media to talk up classes. On the church’s website, ensure that promotion of groups is front and center. Don’t bury your groups under a pull-down window alongside thirteen other ministries or programs. Bible study groups are foundational to the life and ministry of the church, so give them prominence.
2. Give them a reason. Create a hunger in people’s lives for being in a group. Lead them to see why they need to be in a group.
• Highlight the value of community. My pastor periodically talks about the value of community. Use the worship service as a time to underscore the need for discipleship and connection with other believers around God’s Word.
• Testimonies. Enlist people to give a two- to three-minute testimony on how involvement in a Bible study group has benefitted their walk with Christ. This can be done as a part of the service or as a pre-recorded video shown before the service begins. The beauty of a video is you can also post it on the church’s website and social media page.
• Videos. Many Bible study resources include video, Show a snippet or use the promo video provided. For example, Bible Studies for Life offers a 60-second promo video for each of its six-week studies (http://blog.lifeway.com/biblestudiesforlife/category/videos).
3. Give them a connection. This is the most important thing to give them! The key factor in people getting involved in a group is the fact they received a personal invitation. They know someone in the group who wants them to come.
• Instill in both the group leaders and group members a lifestyle of invitation. Lead them to keep their eye out for people who visit the church, meet them, and extend a personal invitation.
• Lead group members to create a list of names—family, friends, neighbors, work colleagues, connections in a hobby, and Facebook friends—and invite them. It’s as simple as that! Guests are more likely to attend a small group when someone they know invites them. Remember those brochures I mentioned earlier? Give a stack to everyone, and as they invite others, they can hand the brochure to them.
Lives change when people get plugged in with a group of believers who study Scripture together and encourage one another. And it all begins with an invitation.
Lynn Pryor is a team leader for adult resources at Lifeway. He and his wife, Mary, lead a Bible study group for young adults and have survived raising two sons to adulthood. A graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Lynn has previously pastored and served churches in Texas. Follow him on his blog at lynnhpryor.com.