The Characteristics and Benefits of Having a New-Members ClassNovember 21, 2013
According to a recent article by Thom Rainer (president and CEO of LifeWay Bookstores), more and more churches are implementing New-Member classes into their education department. These classes give direction and clarity to those who are making decisions about joining your church. They also allow the church to be forthcoming about their policies, practices, and philosophy.
I personally believe such classes should be a staple in our ministries. Think about it…rarely would someone purchase a new car without driving it. No one I know would sign their name to a contract without knowing the content. You wouldn’t want to purchase a home without knowing the features. The same thought-process should be in place when making decisions about church membership. Contrary to popular opinion, church membership is a big deal; having a New-Members class will help facilitate those decisions that are being made by potential members.
Like every other ministry, the New-Member class should be in place with a specific purpose and goal in mind. At our church we call our New-Member class “The Starting Point.” The primary purpose of this class is four-fold:
1. To help new members become acquainted with our church and our ministries
2. To help potential members make better-informed decisions about joining our church
3. To make a connection with the pastor and staff
4. To give people direction on how to serve in our church- a starting point
Each person in the class receives a Starting Point notebook which includes:
- Letter from pastor
- Church Directory
- Contact information of staff, church leaders, and ministry departments
- Statement of Faith
- Constitution and By-Laws
- Spiritual gifts test
- List of classes, along with description and class leader information
- List of ministries, along with description and leader information
The class meets once a quarter for three weeks. Below is the itinerary for each week:
- Meet and Greet
- Discuss Purpose of the Class
- Introduction of myself and my family
- Personal testimony of who I am, my history, my ministry
- History of our Church
- Vision and Future of our Church
- Introduce Spiritual Gift Test
- Q and A
- Meet and Greet
- Introduction of staff
- Review Statement of Faith/Doctrine of Church
- What does it mean to be a Baptist Church?
- Our Operational Procedures- Simple and Accountable is the goal
- Our Administration- leadership, church government, protocols
- Our Officers- staff, deacons, trustees
- Our Finances- protocol, committee, business meetings, financial statements
- Our Missions- how we finance missions
- Philosophy of Ministry- Biblical in our foundation, balanced in our approach, unapologetic in our aim and intent. Go over vision statement.
- Take up Spiritual Gift Test
- Meet and Greet
- Discuss various classes
- Discuss various ministries
- Discuss membership expectations
- Go over Spiritual Gift Test and how it could potentially relate to ministry opportunities
- Sign up and prayer
The reality is, some people will go through the class and realize that God is not leading them to your church; but some will go through the class and get confirmation from the Lord. Having a New-Members class will not eliminate all the angst and frustration of church problems, but it will help people to see exactly what they are getting into when joining your church.
The overall goal of our class is not just to get them in the church, but to get them involved in the ministry of the church.
Keep the class short, simple, and informative. I personally believe it is advantageous for the pastor to lead the class. It is a great opportunity to develop relationships early on in the process.