A good adult education program requires time and effort, but it's worth it.
*Form an adult education planning task force that includes the teachers, other interested persons, and the minister. Devise a brief statement of purpose for adult Christian education in your church. Make it specific and concrete. Next, set goals; for example, "Begin one new class each fall," or "Contact each adult about being involved in the adult education program."
*Develop clear plans for types of courses to be offered, teacher recruitment and training, publicity, and any other concerns. The task force should meet regularly to evaluate progress, deal with problems, and continue to plan.
*Begin new classes regularly. Many adults hesitate to join existing classes because they see themselves as infiltrators or, at best, perpetual guests in a group that has a history. New classes attract new people–whether new to the church or long-time members new to the education program. Even a very small congregation will do best to offer a new course to draw new participants.
*Make a prospect list and keep it updated. Teachers, task force, evangelism committee, and pastor may work together on this. The list can include those who have visited services recently as well as people on the rolls. You might also include those whom members are evangelizing, especially if the course to be offered relates to a need; for example, invite recently married couples to a class on Christian life as young marrieds.
*Inform creatively; invite personally. When you decide what new course or courses you will offer, put a display in the church foyer or fellowship hall. Include the materials to be studied and a poster naming the courses and some of their most attractive aspects. You may also want to add a poster listing reasons why taking part in adult education is a wonderful idea.
*Place a sign-up sheet by the display for those who want to enroll, but do not stop there. Call people you think are good prospects and invite them personally. Experience shows this is the most effective way to get a positive response. A week or so before the class begins, follow up with a note to remind them of the starting date.
*Remember how adults learn. Most do not come to classes to gain general knowledge. Instead, they come to learning experiences where they see some use for what they would learn. Hence a survey course of all four Gospels will probably be less attractive than, for example, a course entitled "Philippians: How To Have Joy in the Middle of Stress." At the same time, most people enjoy learning, so be sure every class offers solid scriptural content as well as practical help.
*Brainstorm concerning ways to build and strengthen relationships and shared experiences in Christian life and service. Encourage each group to incorporate new people into their life together. Suggest monthly potlucks; contact class members to take meals and offer other support to classmates at times of a move, a birth, or a death. Building such community also strengthens the whole body of Christ.
Sunday School. All rights reserved. Used with permission.