Sunday Evening 3/10/13

Posted by Sherry


HOW TO CLOSE THE BACK DOOR
2 Timothy 2:2
CBC 3/10/13

INTRO: Elmer Towns, “Throughout the New Testament, those who were saved became active members of an existing local church, or local churches were formed and they became active in them.”

TEXT: 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

EIGHT SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT HIGH ASSIMILATION CHURCHES
  1. Long Pastoral Tenure
  2. Location is not a factor
  3. Mission Statements are more important than Vision statements
  4. Expository Preaching (verse by verse)
  5. Pastor “Gives Away” ministry (Acts 6:2-4 Apostles turned ministry over to Deacons)
  6. Critical Importance of Youth & Children’s Ministry
  7. Importance of Worship Service (every hymn & chorus promotes discipleship)
  8. Weekday Ministries are not effective in closing the back door
    1. day care
    2. cell groups
    3. church-affiliated schools
    4. recreational activities
    5. other weekday ministries 

SEVEN MAJOR ISSUES FOR HIGH ASSIMILATION
  1. The High Expectation Factor (clearly stated expectations in all ministries) [Churches that expect more from members are more likely to retain them in active membership]
  2. The Primacy of the Sunday School in closing the Back Door (number 1 method)
  3. The Critical Role of Visitor Follow-Up
  4. The “New Program”: New Member/New Prospect Classes (point of entry)
  5. Prayer: The Forgotten Power of Assimilation (teaching new converts to pray...)
  6. Leadership, Leadership, Leadership (common trait among pastors of High Assimilation churches: trial & error learning ranked over seminary, mentors, conferences, books or leadership experts.)
  7. Doctrine: Clarified and Followed (unapologetically conservative in doctrine)

ABOVE ALL: SUNDAY SCHOOL AND THE BACK DOOR

  • In all the “high assimilation” churches, Sunday School was the gauge by which they determined if effective assimilation had taken place.
  • Assimilation - how you know when a new member has a sense of belonging and is thus involved in the ministry of the church
    • FOUR STEP STRATEGY TO ASSIMILATE NEW MEMBERS
    • 1. Believing - leading people to a life-changing commitment to Christ.
    • 2. Belonging - guiding people to commit to Christ’s church through believer’s baptism and meaningful church membership.
    • 3. Becoming - helping people become what God has created them to be, particularly through involvement in discipleship.
    • 4. Behaving - encouraging people toward regular attendance, ministry involvement, community impact, and personal evangelism.
    • Also included is a Spiritual Gift Assessment, Ministry Involvement, Sunday School and completion of a New Member class.

  • Sunday School is so important...
    • an annual appreciation banquet for Sunday School Workers
    • an annual new Sunday School worker installation service

  • Effectiveness of Selected Assimilation Methodologies (0 not important - 5 essential)
    • Sunday School - 4.9
    • New Member Class - 4.1
    • Discipleship Training - 3.8
    • One-to-one discipling - 3.3
    • Support Groups - 2.9
    • Lay Groups 1.5

  • The EXPECTATION FACTOR
    • Sunday School is neither neglected nor accidental, but HIGHLY INTENTIONAL
    • Teachers covenant to prepare their lessons and attend a weekly worker’s meeting
    • Each class would form care groups of no more than 5/group. The care group leader would have the responsibility to see that ministry to the others in the group was carried out.
    • Each class would have an outreach leader to make certain that all guests were contacted and members were accountable for developing relationships with unbelievers.
    • Teachers and other leaders would covenant that they would arrive early for Sunday School each week.
    • An annual covenant renewal service where Sunday School leaders make these and other commitments formally.
  • Recorded Benefits of High Expectations:
    • attendance increased among regular members
    • attendance increased among nominal attenders
    • turnover among teachers dropped
    • ministry through SS increased exponentially
    • people were won to Christ through SS ministry
  • Problems Encountered:
    • some teachers & leaders refused to agree to stricter requirements
    • some teachers dropped out of ministry and service
    • others resisted, implying high-expectations hinted of legalism
  • Results:
    • in every one of the 287 churches, “the pain was worth the gain”
    • Sunday School is the primary teaching & assimilating arm of the church
    • Sunday School can become the primary evangelism arm also

  • The Organizational Factor
    • care groups
    • regular worker’s meetings
    • ministry involvement of class members
    • quality teaching
    • enrollment emphasis
    • opportunities for fellowship
  • Well Organized SS Principles:
    • effective teaching
    • effective evangelism
    • the ministry of all believers
    • Christian fellowship & relationships
    • weekly Teacher training
    • new members assigned to SS class (after description & discussion)
    • Care groups in all classes
    • Outreach and evangelism organized through Sunday School
  • Cost:
    • hard work
    • persistence
    • perseverance
    • short-term losses for long-term gains
  • Ministry Factor:
    • SS is the glue of assimilation in fast growing churches
    • Teaching
    • Care group ministry
    • Evangelism & Outreach
    • Hospitality Ministry
    • Leadership & Organizational ministry
    • Prayer Ministry
  • Sunday Schools In DECLINE: (Barna Research)
    • weak teaching
    • lack of leadership
    • lack of accountability
    • confusion of purpose
    • inadequate child care

  • THE RELATIONSHIP FACTOR
    • where people get to know one another best
    • unlike morning worship - SS class notices when you’re not there

  • THE DOCTRINE FACTOR
    • the clear teachings of biblical truth are demanding and convicting
    • the Holy Spirit speaks through God’s Word so that the cost of discipleship is understood
    • No higher expectations could be placed upon believers than these truths of scripture.
    • High expectations are clearly related to assimilation.
    • a comprehensive plan to teach the Bible to all age groups is imperative
    • many people in churches are woefully ignorant of the Bible & doctrinally weak SS is to blame
    • weak doctrinal teaching can take as long as ten years to show up

  • The Evangelism Factor:
    • The only reason churches are not evangelistic through the SS is that they make no intentional efforts to do so.
    • The SS organization engenders evangelistic accountability. 
    • The SS can be a natural training ground for personal evangelism.
    • If the leaders emphasize evangelism through the SS others will follow.
    • Evangelism through the SS will not be effective unless evangelism is a priority in the entire church.
    • These evangelistic SS classes could be called high-expectation Sunday Schools. (benefit is members of class more productive and active in church with no intention of dropping out.)
    • Sunday School based evangelism results in more effective assimilation.
    • Percentage of New Christians who remain active in the church 5 years later:
      • 83% those active in Sunday School
      • 16% those active in worship only

  • Why Not Cell Groups?
    • while cell groups can be used as an auxiliary of SS it can never take it’s place
    • SS is easier to organize and administer than cell groups
    • SS more easily included all age groups
    • Always a concern of doctrinal integrity of cell groups
    • Sequencing SS and worship on the same day provided many practical benefits

  • CONCLUSION
    • Research is clear and overwhelming
    • SS is the most effective assimilation methodology in evangelistic churches today
    • A place for: 
      • teaching
      • discipleship
      • ministry
      • fellowship
      • evangelism
      • relationships
      • bonding to the church
  • mere existence of SS does not produce assimilation
    • expectations must be clear that ministry and evangelism should take place within the class
    • organization should run well with good records and strong administrative leaders
    • Sunday School works, but only if we “work” Sunday School

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