For years First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, (the church where I have served as Senior Pastor for 23 years) has conducted a new member class which we call the Discovery Class. We bill it for new members and for potential members.
While we reach people who have recently joined our church, the majority of the group is made up of potential members or as we often describe it “people who are checking us out.” In the last couple of years, this has become a major outreach tool of First Covington.
All of this is fresh on my mind because we had our most recent Discovery Class this past Sunday afternoon. We had 36 people show up for a two and one-half hour class. Of that group, 23 people decided on Sunday night to join our church. Several of those came by profession of faith and baptism. This has become such a typical Discovery Class that we have added an additional class for the year, bringing us to a total of five classes. We will continue to evaluate and will add additional dates if this trend continues.
Your church may not need a new member class but ours does. What makes this work so well?
First, we believe we are answering the questions people are asking. We have honed our approach and content to deal with what they need to know. They want to know what we believe and why we believe it. We spend a significant part of our class talking about who we are and what makes us tick.
Second, we present the plan of salvation and allow people to confess their faith and join the church during the class. For whatever reason, this approach seems more and more to resonate with the people God is bringing to FBC Covington.
Third, the class gives this group of people the opportunity to meet the pastors and a number of our deacons. This helps them connect with the church (and it helps them size us up).
Fourth, people like to have some control over their decisions. They want to make decisions on their timetable and not be put “in a box.” This class seems to meet that need.
Finally, the class shows that new people are important to us, the kingdom of God, and to the future of FBC.
I couldn’t be more pleased with what our Discovery Class has become. I recommend something like it highly.
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