Who goes to Bible class at your church? In the vast majority of congregations across North America, the answer is about 5% of the adults who regularly attend worship (most of the people in your church who have the spiritual gift of knowledge—they like to learn). Yet in many churches the answer is 95% of the adults in worship. What do you think is the difference?

Answer(s) (check all that apply):

  1.  An extraordinary preacher who motivates people.
  2.  Free Starbucks coffee is served.
  3.  Some churches have more respect for the Bible.
  4.  Some churches have exceptional teachers.
  5.  Certain materials draw more people.
  6.  Churches that design Bible classes as small groups.
  7.  Fresh donuts.
  8.  One-half-hour rather than one-hour Bible classes.
  9.  None of the above.

If you chose “none of the above,” you’re right! The key? Change the organizing principle from a class to a fellowship group.

Most churches have adult Bible classes (sometimes called adult Sunday school) where a topic is chosen to woo people to attend. Some classes are organized around the person (Pastor Paul’s class). Some are organized around demographics (couple’s class). These are not the organizing principles that represent the “glue” of the New Testament Church. That “glue” is fellowship. In a growing number of churches, Sunday school classes are being replaced by Adult Bible Fellowships (ABFs).

Focus on these issues:

  1. Recognize that fellowship groups already exist and include most people in your church. Ask six people to list members they would invite to a picnic at their house.
  2. Don’t start the ABF until the six people have listed at least 40 people (and no more than 80) who agree to try this for two months.
  3. Make sure the six people invite them (relationships), not the church, staff, or bulletin (the institution).
  4. Pick a room that will always be for this ABF at a consistent time slot.
  5. Pick a leader, song leader, and membership recruitment person. These people stay. The teachers and topics come and go. The same people attend all the time.
  6. Refreshments are provided as people enter the room.
  7. Spend the first 15 minutes for announcements, singing favorite songs, prayer requests, and (very important) sharing “what God is doing in your life.” Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
  8. After 15 minutes, the leader introduces the teacher for 45 minutes of Bible study.
  9. To help guide you, use Knute Larson’s booklet ABFs: Adult Bible Fellowships (available from The Chapel, 135 Fir Hill, Akron, OH 44304; (330) 315-5910; dane.allphin@the-chapel.org) and the Church Doctor audio resource How to Design and Develop Fellowship Groups.

Most people will not miss Adult Bible Fellowships. This is a great way to assimilate new members. It simply honors the “glue” God has given to the church: fellowship!

How have you successfully implemented adult bible fellowships? We welcome your comments below.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

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