Healthy, growing churches create pathways for people to take the next step in their spiritual journeys. Recently, Pastor Rick Warren wrote about understanding where people are spiritually as you plan your ministry to help them grow to the next level. Saddleback’s approach has been to offer Class, which is made up of four separate classes people can take to better understand their next step.
Obviously, there are churches of all shapes and sizes, and yours may not necessarily benefit the most from a one-time, four-hour offering of Class. You may be in a new church plant or a very small church with only a handful of people gathering. Or you may not have the facility to host a larger class gathering. Or it simply may not be working, in your context, to do it this way.
It’s important to understand your own context and get creative with how to do things best. We listen to what churches are saying and we observe what is working in purpose driven churches. Here are four other ways of offering Class and helping people take their next step.
1. Offer Class through small groups.
Each class can easily be broken into four different sessions, which a small group could study together over a four-week period. It would be especially effective if your pastors could possibly record themselves teaching the material and then distribute that to the group hosts. This works well when you have a strong small groups culture and a situation where you don’t have access to a good teaching facility.
2. Offer Class online.
Obviously it’s ideal when we get to see people face-to-face. And it’s certainly beneficial to get people into an environment where they are getting to know others who are part of your church. But it’s not out of the question to offer Class in an online format. Again, record the teaching and upload it to a video-hosting site or service.
3. Offer Class one-on-one.
There are very few discipleship programs better structured for one-on-one sharing than Class. It’s entirely possible for leaders within your church to sit down one-on-one with new people and walk through the material with them. In fact, multiplication happens as those who have walked through Class with others start to find people to lead through it themselves.
4. Offer Class as a sermon series.
As we plant Grace Hills Church, we’ve offered Class 101 for some time now, and we’re rolling out the other classes one at a time, but we’re starting with a sermon series. The whole church will take part in Class 201 through a series we’re entitling Finding Your Groove: 4 Habits of Spiritual Growth. After the series, we’ll make the class available to anyone who has become part of the church since the series ended.
Remember that it’s less about the specific programs you use and more about having a simple pathway for people to grow in God’s purposes for their lives. So get creative. Know your context. And do whatever it takes to lead more people to be completely committed to Christ.