Onramps are designed to get people up to speed when entering a highway. People not in a class or group need safe ways to get involved as well. The need for onramps is especially true if we use an ongoing Bible study groups strategy, like Sunday School. The class or group has its own rhythm and internal code. These rhythms and codes are developed over time and help the class or group function efficiently, but they also cause guests to remain focused in their rearview mirror until they get up to speed in a class or group. Here are three ways you can use Explore the Bible resources to help create onramps within your groups.
Provide resources to everyone.
As people arrive, we can greet them, making sure everyone has a copy of the resources being used in the class. We will want to show them where the class is in the study. Providing a person with their own copy of the Personal Study Guide or Daily Discipleship Guide with a marker on the lesson being studied that day goes a long way in helping a new person get their bearings. Providing the Personal Study Guide or Daily Discipleship Guide serves as an invitation to be a member of the group, functioning like a key to the car. If a person offers the book back to us, encourage them to keep it for their own personal study.
Start New Groups.
New groups places everyone in the new group at the same speed, making it easier for a person to get involved. One of the best ways to start a new group is for current leaders to start new groups. The current leader apprentices someone in their group with a view of stepping away from the current group. When the time comes, the current leader hands off the reins to the apprentice declaring him the new teacher of the established group. This apprentice should have taught this class several times by the time this declaration happens. The apprentice becomes the teacher of the current class so that the current teacher can begin a new class. This approach is less disruptive and makes more sense because an experienced teacher has a higher probability of succeeding at starting a new class.
The Explore the Bible Adult Daily Discipleship Guide was created with this in mind. The group plans are in the back of the book, meaning the apprentice does not need a different book to use as a teacher. We can encourage a potential apprentice to follow along in the back of the book during the group time and take note of what we do. They can see how we adapted the plan and can ask us questions about why we did what we did. In effect, we are teaching them to use the book they already have in a different way.
One word of warning: Starting a new class or group does not guarantee growth (it takes work) but failing to create new groups all but guarantees no growth.
Frame the Study Wisely.
One part of providing onramps is giving people a reason to get involved in the first place. Some church leaders are providing special studies as onramps. The idea is that once the group completes the special study, they will then transition to the studies being used by the other classes or groups within the church. One weakness of this approach is we are giving them two different experiences unless the onramp study carries the same expectations and design as the future studies.
Instead, we may want to consider how we frame or present the study. We can announce that our groups are studying 1 and 2 Kings, and some will be excited since they already know some of the stories in these two books. But many will have no idea what they will find in these books and why they would be interested in stories about kings who lived thousands of years ago. Another approach would be to announce that the classes and groups are studying about the price of sin, how God expects His people to live, and what it takes for a person to bring people back to God. This description comes from the paragraph on the back of the Summer 2022 Explore the Bible Adult resources. This second approach is more inviting and frames the study for those looking for a reason to try out a group.
Review the resources listed above, looking at a set of four lessons to see how Explore the Bible resources can help you create onramps to your groups. Complete the form and the four lessons are yours to download for free!