I really do think it is possible to double a class in two years or less. The average size class is 10 people. Doubling a class translates into going from 10 to 14 in a year. It is so possible. It begs the question, why isn’t it being done already? Why isn’t it being done routinely?
Well, there is a good question for your next staff meeting or teachers meeting. Here are three answers:
You couldn’t build buildings fast enough. You couldn’t start new services fast enough. You couldn’t start new churches fast enough to contain the growth that would result from a church full of committed Sunday School teachers who were doubling their classes every two years or less.
The good news is, some–many will respond if asked. All will not, but some will. Some will give their lives to trying to double a class if we can paint a compelling picture of what would happen if we could perfect the skill of doubling a class every two years or less. I’d like to ask you to help paint that compelling picture.
From time to time, people have come up to me at conferences, rather sheepishly, and said, “I have presented your material at a number of conferences. I never asked you. I hope it is O.K.”
I would like to be unequivocally clear about this. I would like to say this loudly and not stutter. I would say to anyone who can present the Double Your Class message: “The things you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
I have some confidence that I am doing some churches and some teachers some good. But, it is like emptying the Pacific Ocean with tea cups. Tea cups. We need more presenters.
How I Became a Double Your Class Presenter and How You Can Too
I was asked to speak at a denominational meeting back in the early 1990s. There were two meetings held in Houston, TX with a title something like, "Innovative Church Conference." The denomination was just then beginning to wrestle with the idea that there were some new ways of doing church out there. Saddleback was not yet a household name. Josh Hunt was completely unheard of.
I didn't speak on the main stage. I just did a small group break-out session. I don't remember exactly how I was asked to do this. I had submitted a few articles to a few magazines; maybe someone had heard about me that way. But, this is not an unusual thing. Many of you who are reading this are routinely asked to do conferences in similar kinds of settings. I want to ask you to challenge Sunday School teachers to double every two years or less.
There was an unexpectedly high turn out for these events, and every break-out session was jammed full, including mine. Most of these were Ministers of Education. Many of these people routinely have an annual Sunday School training event, and are always on the lookout for speakers. From this event, I got about 6 other events to speak at churches.
I really enjoyed doing this speaking and started doing something that I still do to this day. I asked for referrals. At almost every meeting I do, I look the host in the eye and say these words, "Would you like to help me out? Do you have any friends in ministry? Would you mind writing a short email to your friends recommending me to do a conference?" I have never had any one turn me down. If every conference you do results in 20 referrals that result in 2 actual conferences, you will have a full-time job in time.
When I first got started, these referrals were done by phone or regular mail. Today, they are done by email, which is a lot easier. I normally email my hosts a month or so after the meeting, reminding them and asking them again if they would recommend me to their ministry buddies. It is a way to make word of mouth intentional. Many of you reading this have the capability to do the same thing. I often ask the Minister of Education and Pastor to give me referrals. If the Association is involved, I ask the DOM as well.
If you really wanted to get aggressive with referrals, you could get the names of the people your host referred you to and contact them yourself. Good idea, but I have never actually done it.
One other thing you might do is to ask for a repeat conference from the same host. I do two main conferences, Double Your Class and Disciplemaking Teachers. I usually do Double first, but try to come back and do Disciplemaking Teachers as well. I also have a conference in the "E and R" or TIGER, called Double E.R. And, I have a new conference on Incredible Teachers. I have come back and done Double twice at the same church. I did that recently at Corpus Christi, Texas. Someone came afterwards and said, "I think I am starting to get it."
Something else you can do to get conferences and to build credibility as a speaker is to get published. There is an unfair credibility that goes to anyone who has been published. If you have been published, people think you are smart. Get magazine articles published first, then go for a book. Write lots of publishers. Expect tons of rejection.
How much do I charge?
I have read a number of books on how to make it in the seminar business. There was a story in one of them that got my attention. The writer recalls when she first told someone that her fee was $1000 a day. She thought they would be incredulous--"Who do you think you are charging that kind of fee?" The reaction was the opposite. They were impressed. "Oh, you must be good!" Still, I wouldn't try that at first.
For years I did this part-time as a supplement to my regular day job, being a Minister of Education. When you have a day job, it doesn't matter too much what you get paid doing conferences. If you ever make the plunge to do it full-time, you have to think very carefully about money.
I recommend you do what I did at first. People would ask me what I charged and I would say, "Whatever you want to pay me is fine." I needed the experience, enjoyed the travel, felt good about getting the message out and it was a good deal for all. Until, one day I came home from 3 days in California with $150. I just didn't feel like it was fair to be away from my kids that long for $50 a day. That is when I set a fee.
What you charge just boils down to a personal decision you make about how much it is worth to you to be away from your family. There is no right and wrong. Some speakers charge what seems to me to be outrageous amounts of money, but people are happy to pay it, so good for them.
I have never gotten into making deals. I have one fee whether I speak for 30 minutes or 5 hours. I charge it if I am already in the area, or if I have to travel 12 hours to get there and 12 hours to get back.
How to get more seminars
There is a lot of talk these days about the death of the denomination. The talk suggests that in the future, more and more churches will be independent and fewer part of mainline denominations. The main support of this argument is that most mainline denominations are on the decline. Baptists are doing better than anyone, and we are just holding our own.
Still, I am here to report that the denomination is alive and well and will be for some time to come. Here is how this impacts you as a seminar presenter. Anytime you can work with an Association or State Convention, you are way ahead of the game. My crowds are always better speaking to an Association sponsored event than speaking to an individual church. I am speaking at First Baptist, Atlanta, GA and First Baptist Springdale, AR next year. In churches like those, the size of the crowd might approach the kind of crowds that I speak to at Associational events, but they are the rare exception. I will speak tonight at an Associational event in Lawton, OK. They are expecting 300 people. It is a rare church that will attract that kind of crowd.
Speaking to Associational and State events has another advantage. Your name gets before every church in the Association, whether they come or not. Sometimes, individual churches in the Association will invite you back to their church after they heard you at an Associational event. Also, Associations tend to send their newsletter to their buddies. So, other DOMs will hear about you. DOMs talk. If you are good, they will recommend you to each other and the referrals will keep coming.
By the way, this same dynamic is true if you can speak at a mega church. Years ago I spoke at First Baptist, Orlando, a church of around 3500 in Sunday School. It came at the invitation of J.B. Collingsworth, who was on staff at the time. (J.B. is now in the seminar business himself. See http://www.marriageandfamilymatters.org ) J.B. told me while I was there, "This trip will change your life."
"What do you mean?" I was puzzled.
"Our newsletter goes out to numerous churches--big churches--all across the nation. When they see you came here, they will invite you to come to their churches." J.B. explained.
"Well, if I am any good, I suppose."
"It doesn't matter if you are any good. They have already gotten the newsletters. They will never ask if you are any good. They will assume if you are good enough to come here, you must be good."
As it turns out, J.B. was right. That was the beginning of me working full time at this ministry.
All it takes is one. One opportunity like that and it might launch you into a career of conference speaking.
I love my job. I love traveling. I love speaking. I have a real sense of calling about what I do. People are nearly always nice to me. They often display a, “Would you like dessert with that meal” kind of attitude. But, I live with a nagging frustration that I am getting this message to so few. It is tea cups trying to empty the Pacific Ocean. Tea cups.
We need hundreds of people out beating the bushes challenging groups to double every two years or less. It is a wonderful life.
Let me know if I can help you in any way.