Right on (His) Schedule

The same advice has come from Seminary professors, my supervising pastor, a veteran associate, and a paper written by a fellow member of the Institute for Worship and Outreach. Take a proactive rather than a reactive approach to Bible Information Class. In other words, don’t wait until you have interested people to schedule a class. Schedule a class, and then work hard to find interested people. I’ve found that advice to be wise for all kinds of reasons during my five years of ministry. This past week I was reminded of one more.

Let me back up. Recently we made the transition to a cloud-based system for managing our prospect list. Like many congregations, we now use a Client Relationship Management (CRM) platform called Sales Force (separate article coming soon).

Part of tailoring the software to meet our prospect management needs included making a list of “statuses” that describe every prospect on our list. Each prospect’s status tells me where that person is in the evangelism process, from our initial contact with them all the way to becoming members of our congregation. The final list consisted of seven steps:

  1. Initial contact made
  2. Initial follow up complete
  3. Law-Gospel appointment made
  4. Law-Gospel visit complete
  5. Enrolled in Bible Information Class
  6. Completed Bible Information Class
  7. Received into membership

Your evangelism process is probably very similar. The only thing new was that now I have an easy-to-use, cloud-based system with which to track that process with every prospect.
I’m sure you’ve also had the experience that sometimes things don’t happen right on schedule. Sometimes that can be frustrating. Other times that can be an unexpected blessing.

This past Sunday a couple came to worship at our church for the first time. Step 1 was achieved. The only problem was that they didn’t fill out one of our information cards. No address. No phone number. Step 2 was impossible.

But then that afternoon I received an email notifying me that someone had filled out our online registration from for our Bible Information Class, which happened to be starting that Thursday. Sure enough, it was the couple that had joined us for worship that morning for the first time. Sometimes it takes years to get people from step 1 to step 5. This couple had done it in less than three hours.

What if we hadn’t had a class starting the week of their first visit? Would they have left their contact information? Would they have ever come back to church? Who knows? I’m just thankful for this unexpected blessing.

So that gives me one more reason to put Bible Information Class on the schedule. Will there always be potential attendees? God-willing. Will it force me to recruit and promote with even greater zeal? Absolutely. At the very least is it worthwhile offering it for members as a review? Of course. And in addition to all of that, putting Bible Information Class on the schedule gives the Holy Spirit an opportunity to give undeserved blessings that are completely off schedule.

Rev. Jonathan P. Bauer

Jonathan Bauer serves at Good News Lutheran Church, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.

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