6 Keys to a Successful Church Membership Class (That You Might Not Expect)

Every church should have a membership class. Every church. Some may not agree because, for them, membership is simply aligning with beliefs. But I propose to you that there is more to church membership than an agreement on theological statements.

6 Keys to a Successful Church Membership Class (That You Might Not Expect)

This year we relaunched our church membership class with a new name, a new timeframe, a new focus, and new goals. We’re still tweaking and don’t claim to have it all locked in, but we discovered that there may be some keys to a successful membership class that you might not expect.

6 Keys to a Successful Church Membership Class

1. Define the End Goal.

You may be tempted to gloss over this one because it seems clear: grow the membership of the church. And if this is your only end goal, then you could recite your beliefs as a church, have everyone raise their hand who agrees and call it a day. I, however, am not advocating for that.

Instead, think about things like: unifying and growing our core (members) through commitment in serving sacrificially, growing spiritually in community, and giving generously.

For us, the end goal became uniting those who wanted to be all in and creating pathways to service, growth in community, and generosity. We talked about our beliefs and proclaimed the Gospel, but we didn’t stop there.

2. Decide on Branding.

Do you want to call you membership class, membership class? That just sounds stale, boring, and uninspiring. I know that shouldn’t be the case – we should care about membership in the local church – but many people don’t.

Here’s the thing with branding… It reinforces vision, mission, and values. This is true for every channel of communication in your church from t-shirts to your website to your membership class, and to everything in between and beyond.

So evaluate what the vision of the church is along with the mission and values, then consider what communicates the result of being a member.

We decided to scrap the term member (because of the baggage we bring to the table with the word) and simply call it, All In. In fact, All In became the class name as well as how we describe church membership.

Someone just this past Sunday asked me about how to become a member at The Crossing and my response? That’s great you want to become a member! We call it going All In and we’re offering our next class in…

For us, instead of calling it membership class, we wanted to communicate from the outset that it means being all in. So, for us at least, why not call it that?

Here’s what this turned into for promotions (by the way, when you brand your class in a specific way, it makes promoting it much easier and more effective):

3. Make it Interactive.

Odds are, you’ll end up sharing the story of the church (you really should do this, by the way), but don’t just make it a one-sided conversation. Ask participants to share some aspects of their story. If you’re working with a big room, tell them to share with their table.

Let people know that if they have a question, they can ask it. They don’t have to wait for Q&A time

4. Communicate the Purpose and Goal for Them.

Many won’t know what to expect fully – especially if you take an approach like I am explaining – so from the beginning and all throughout, be sure to point people toward the purpose of the class and the goal for them.

We explain that this will be more than reading our beliefs and making sure you agree with them. We tell them that when the church is united in vision, values, and mission, we’ll begin to see the unstoppable nature of God’s church in a real, tangible way. When more people in this church are serving, giving, and growing, God’s kingdom in our community and around the world will be further expanded through us and in us.

5. Make it a Pathway

Too often church membership classes become just that – classes. They don’t go beyond the time scheduled and, as a result, less people get plugged into ministry areas, community, and giving options.

So how do you make it into a pathway? Be intentional on class structure and sequence, and ask for commitments when appropriate. Here’s how this is broken down for us:

  • Week 1 – Story of the church, mission, vision for the future, core values, and core beliefs (proclaim Gospel and plan of salvation at the end).
    • Commitment: Yes, I’m ready to move to week 2, or, No, I’m not ready to go all in right now.
  • Week 2 – What it looks like to be all in (explain biblical commitment to the local church)
    • Commitment: Yes, I commit to go all in (this includes things like baptism, serving in a ministry, growing in community, and giving generously) and continue on with the class, or, No, I’m not ready to go all in right now.
  • Week 3 – How God has wired you – personality assessment, spiritual gifts assessment, and explanation of both
    • No commitments other than to participate and finish out to next week.
  • Week 4 – Roundtable experience to help them identify a ministry area to serve in and role where they can use their gifts
    • Decisions are made regarding what ministry area(s) they would like to serve in.

6. Order T-Shirts.

Seriously. If you’ve branded your class, this is an easy win. Everyone loves a free t-shirt and those who have committed to the church will be walking inspiration for those who are on the fence the next time the class is offered.

Need more convincing on this? Give Rich Birch’s article a read over at UnSeminary: 5 Reasons Leading Churches Use T-Shirts as a Ministry Tool (Plus 12 FREE Designs for You!)

What About You?

What would you add? Are there other keys to a successful church membership class that someone might not expect? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or on social media (Facebook Group | Facebook Page | Twitter).

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Written by Brandon Kelley

Brandon Kelley is the co-founder of Rookie Preacher and the author of Preaching Sticky Sermons and Crucified to Life. He serves as the Spiritual Development Pastor at a fast growing church in Batavia, Ohio, called The Crossing. Among the many things he does at The Crossing, serving on the teaching team is one of them. He also writes at BrandonKelley.org. You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.