Good Questions Have Groups Talking

A group of 10 that doubles every 18 months will reach 1000 people for God in 10 years.


The Best Idea Since Whiteboard

I savvy myself a collector of ideas. I love ideas. I borrow ideas. I steal ideas. I use ideas. I birth ideas; nurture ideas. Occasionally I have good ones. I believe you have good ideas by having lots of ideas. I knew this one was good as soon as I heard of it. "Why didn't I think of that?" I found myself thinking. It is so obvious; so workable; so usable. It is not yet proven, but it will be soon. It is the best idea I have heard in years. It is the best thing for Sunday School since whiteboards and dry erase markers.

Three years ago I visited Australia. At the invitation of a Rob Steed, who is in charge of Sabbath Schools for Adventist in Australia (Sunday Schools on Saturday from my viewpoint), I conducted a six city tour, casting a vision for giving Friday nights to Jesus, inviting every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month, and teaching a half-way decent lesson each and every week, nothing less will do. The idea caught on and they have seen positive ideas everywhere the idea was worked.

That is the bugga-boo about ideas, you have to work them. It is not enough to have an idea, you have to work it. (1) As good as the double your class plan is, the denomination was looking for a way to get more widespread buy-in. Then my friend Rob came up with something brilliant: pay them. He has asks for and received permission to pay people who will give Friday nights to Jesus $1000 a year (Australian dollars.).They are so confident it will work they are piloting the project at a pretty robust level, seeking to get 150 families across Australia to be "Homes of Hope" families. (Clever name, too, ya think?) If all goes well, they hope to have 500 families the following year. Do the math, they are planning to invest half a million dollars into pizza evangelism!

"Petty small dollars, from our viewpoint," Rob explained to me. We are accustomed to doing big Billy Graham style evangelism events. Some time back the Sydney area churches rented the famed Opera Hall on beautiful Sydney Harbor for such an event. As best he could remember, the price tag came in at around three quarters of a million dollars. "If you look at a graph of baptisms in the Sydney area, you wouldn't be able to tell what year we rented the Opera Hall," Rob explained. He went on to help me with the math. On average these kind of events cost us about $5,000 - $7,000 per baptism. Kind of a crass way of looking at things, I know. Certainly, who can place a price on a soul? Still, Jesus called us to be shrewd as snakes (Matthew 10:16). As stewards of God's resources, we have an responsibility to try to get as much mileage we can out of the limited resources God has made available to us.

Homes of Hope families will be held responsible to conduct 30 hospitality nights a year. They invite members of their own group (they are also required to be part of a group) as well as recent visitors, chronic absentees, or other prospects. Rob is estimating they will win at least two people for every family that does this. If those numbers are right they will win one person for every $500 spent, over 10 times as good as the approaches they are currently using. I personally think his estimate is low. I think the results will be closer to one family joining a month.

Think we about the possibilities of this. If it works, they will roll it out in a big way in Australia, and soon through much of the rest of the world. Perhaps other denominations will catch on as well. WOW! That is enough to give a good Australian Shout to the Lord about.

Perhaps you are thinking, "Yeah, great idea, I wish my denomination would do that!" I'd like to invite you to think in a different direction. Is it possible your church could try this? Is it possible your church could call some homes of hope families to have 30 hospitality nights a year? Think about it.

It is hard for me to imagine that Homes of Hope family will not bring a family a month into the church. On average, everyone who attends our Sunday School in America brings $1000 a year with them (U.S. dollars). Hard for me to imagine this won't pencil.

One question that came to my mind was, "Why would we pay Homes of Hope families when we don't pay other volunteers, like teachers? Are we saying these families are more important than the teachers?" A one word answer came to mind: pizza. These families have hard costs associated with their ministry. In the same way that we pay for teachers' quarterlies and other supplies, I think it is only fair that we pay for the refreshments when families have families over. Hospitality can be expensive. It seems reasonable that the whole body share this expense.

They plan do some other things to encourage and support Homes of Hope families. Newsletters, special emails, encouragements, training and rallies are all part of the strategy. They plan to have some parties to encourage the partiers. A good idea, I thought.

Perhaps you have thought for a long time that "Giving Friday nights Jesus is a great idea if we could just get people to do it." Homes of Hope offers is one way to do it. It is the best idea I have heard sense the invention of the whiteboard and dry erase marker.

1. See my article, The One Time When Giving Friday Nights to Jesus won't work.




How to double a group

You can double a class in two years or less by inviting every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month.