Recent studies by Dr. Chuck Lawless and Dr. Gary L. McIntosh indicate that more and more churches are utilizing new member classes. Although some require the class for membership (31% according to Lawless), the majority do not. Regardless of whether the class is required for membership or not, it can serve as a great tool for relationship building, vision sharing, and assimilation.
A membership class is also a great place to present the Gospel. Another key component of a membership class should be a presentation of the plan of salvation. One should not assume that every person who in the new member class is, in fact, a believer. Often individuals attend out of curiosity or in an attempt to seek the truth.
With this in mind, be sure you follow these guidelines when you develop your new member’s class:
- Never assume everyone in the class in a “born again” believer. Many who seek membership and many who are already members in our churches are not “born again” believers. We should use every opportunity to present the Gospel of the Lord.
- Always present the plan of salvation simply and thoroughly. Strong does not mean long. Give a complete presentation, but make it short and sweet. Use the ABCs, the Roman Road, FAITH, or some other simple Gospel presentation.
- Tell the class your purpose in sharing the gospel with the class. Say something like this to the class, “Regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey, we’re thrilled you’ve chosen to be a part of this class. Some of you have been believers for years, some of you are fairly new followers of Christ, and some of you are still considering the decision. In any case, we’re glad you’re here. Because all of us are at different stages of our spiritual journey, let’s talk for a few minutes about what it means to be a follower of Christ….”
- Invite persons in the class to receive Christ if they have not already done so. Be sure that you invite people to become a Christian as a part of your presentation of the Gospel.
- Offer one or more ways a person in the class can respond to the invitation to receive Christ. Here is an effective way to encourage a response. Present the Gospel on the last night of the class. Include a tearout information sheet in the back of the membership class booklet. Have everyone in the class complete the sheet at the same time. Ask class members to check the appropriate boxes that apply to them. Provide a box for basic spiritual decisions including one that says something along the line of “I invited Christ into my life during this class.”
For further help in this area, please see the following posts: