An effective new member class is a gift. It provides front-end assimilation. It gets people involved in ministry. It moves them to groups and to wise stewardship.
I am a big proponent of new member classes. But not all new member classes are created equally. Some are effective; some are not. If you think your church’s new member class is not as effective as it could be, there are possibly some quick and helpful solutions. Let’s look at the six most common problems in new member classes so you can make those adjustments.
- The class is not a priority. A membership class should be a regularly-scheduled event. It should be a priority of church leadership. Church members and guests alike should hear clearly the importance of the class in the life of the church.
- The class is missing one or more of the three key ingredients. Every new member class should include three key elements: information about the church; expectations of members; and a clear assimilation process as soon as the class concludes. Failure to have all three ingredients significantly weakens the effectiveness of the class.
- The class has information overload. New or prospective members will only retain a modest amount of information. Too many membership classes try to share almost everything about the church instead of hitting highlights and pointing the members to sources of information for future consumption.
- The class lasts too long. While this issue is certainly related to the number of hours a class lasts, it is more tied to the number of days a class continues. Classes that go beyond a single day tend to lose people.
- The class is boring. The leader of the class needs to be a good communicator. Different delivery approaches, such as adding video elements, help as well. Classes can also turn boring when there are not enough breaks.
- The class has no follow-up process. The conclusion of the new member class should be the beginning of assimilation. Communication of information is not sufficient. The church must have a clear process to make certain new members get connected, get involved, and get committed.
New member classes are vital to the health of a church. But these classes are only effective if the commitment, priority, and effort of the church leadership is evident on an ongoing basis.
Let me hear from you. What do you do in your church’s new member classes?