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Defined purpose, publicity called keys to effective discipleship promotion

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Struggling to attract a crowd to discipleship training?
Developing a purpose statement for the ministry and trying different methods of publicity could help increase interest and attendance, a leader from the Baptist General Convention of Texas said.
“Developing a purpose statement for discipleship helps your membership understand why you’re doing what you’re doing and what you want to accomplish,” Eric Williams, discipleship training coordinator for the BGCT said during a July 22 seminar on “How to Promote Discipleship.” The class was part of Discipleship and Family Week at LifeWay Conference Center Glorieta.
After adopting a purpose statement, Williams said leaders should keep it before church members through publications, bulletin boards and other media.
“The goal is to help them catch a vision for how discipleship can help them grow toward spiritual maturity,” he said.
Once the ministry is established, Williams said personal testimonies from people who have been through discipleship studies are often the best way to promote future sessions.
“When someone can talk about what the study meant to them and how it changed their life, you can’t get any better publicity than that,” he said, adding such testimonies could be given during worship services, in Sunday school class assemblies or even printed in the church bulletin or newsletter.
Other keys for a successful discipleship ministry, Williams said, include “enthusiastic support from the pulpit” and leaders “who have a passion for seeing people grow in Christ.”
In addition to traditional promotional vehicles such as posters, brochures, post cards and bulletin and newsletter announcements, Williams shared numerous other ideas for promoting discipleship, including:
— Surveys. Usually, they list the various courses or types of courses a church is considering offering and invites members to select the ones that interest them most. Filling out surveys is effective because it gives members ownership in the courses selected, Williams said.
— A drama or skit depicting some truth of a proposed study.
— A discipleship fair, usually held on a Sunday evening. Set up information booths for each planned study. Have people available to answer questions, preferably those who have benefited from the course. To add interest, the “fair” atmosphere could be enhanced by offering hot dogs, games and other attractions.
— Promotional videos, including those produced in many discipleship materials and/or those produced by a church featuring testimonials from members.
— PowerPoint presentations for use with a special group or set up to run continuously on a monitor in a prominent place in the church.
— Internet website and e-mail announcements.
— Alumni enlistment. Have alumni of various studies be responsible for enlisting new people for upcoming studies.
Williams also suggested targeting special groups with discipleship studies, such as new parents, divorcees or those in alcohol recovery.
Some churches also coordinate individual studies for members who travel frequently or have work schedules which make it impossible for them to attend regularly scheduled classes, he said.
“You’ve got to build that creative awareness with your publicity,” Williams said, “but don’t forget the personal touch. Sometimes the best way to get someone involved is grabbing them by the sleeve and inviting them.”
Discipleship and Family Week at the Glorieta, N.M., conference center was sponsored by the discipleship and family group of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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  • Chip Alford