Annual Schedule for Sunday School Growth, Part 2

Monday 16th October, 2017
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In Part 1, I said that if nothing changes, Sunday School will not grow. Growth requires prayer, more workers, more classes, training, caring contacts, invitations, new members, and more. There is God to obey. There are people to reach, care for, and teach.

In Part 1, I shared key actions that should be scheduled in a growing Sunday School from June through October. In Part 2, I will finish out the schedule by looking at actions that should be scheduled November through May. Keep in mind that these actions assume that regular planning and communication meetings are taking place. Consider the following:
  • NOVEMBER-DECEMBER:  Mobilize Missions, Ministry, and Prayer. Give the gift of care to those in need in the church, community, and world. Pray for the impact of Sunday School. Ask for God's help in identifying workers for the harvest.
  • JANUARY-FEBRUARY:  Launch New Classes and Provide Training. Evaluate needs and growth of all age groups, enlist leaders, and start new groups. Coach new leaders. Evaluate needs and provide specific training for all teachers and class leaders. January Bible Study is another way to supplement teacher and member knowledge of God's Word.
  • MARCH-APRIL:  Emphasize Outreach and Enrollment. Pray for prospects. Set aside a day every week to make visits, calls, and send mail to prospects. Set class goals for new members. Recognize those who meet or exceed their goals. Plan a fellowship or project to invite prospects.
  • MAY:  Appreciate Teacher/Workers. Provide a banquet or breakfast to thank teachers and workers for their service. Give gifts. Offer brief training (15-30 minutes). Recognize accomplishments.

What would you add to the schedule offered in these two posts? These are suggestions offered to maintain the effectiveness of our work of Sunday School. The work needs regular emphasis and strengthening in teaching, reaching, and member care. Plan it. Schedule it. Measure it. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about Sunday School growth, check out these posts:

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Annual Schedule for Sunday School Growth, Part 1

Monday 9th October, 2017
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If nothing changes, Sunday School will not grow. Growth requires prayer, more workers, more classes, training, caring contacts, invitations, new members, and more. There is God to obey. There are people to reach, care for, and teach.

Sunday School cannot rest upon past success. Jesus' commission for the church (Matthew 28:19-20) is Sunday School's mission to "make disciples of all nations." Relationships must be developed. Invitations extended. Jesus shared. Lost saved. Prayers prayed. God's Word studied. Lives changed. Families strengthened. Disciples grown and mobilized. Multiplication results.

There are key actions that should take place in a growing Sunday School. The Sunday School Revolutionary is about those revolutionary actions and changes. But this post will focus on an annual schedule for some of those key actions. The following calendar assumes that the new Sunday School year (including promotion of age groups) will occur in September. It also assumes that regular planning and communication meetings are taking place. Consider the following:
  • JUNE-AUGUST:  Enlistment and New Classes. Talk to all current workers. Evaluate the year. Ask how serving could be even better. Ask if they will serve in the coming year. Replace any who are not returning. Consider classes in each age group (preschool, children, youth, and adults) which need to be started. What leaders are needed to staff the new classes? What additional literature is needed for new classes/leaders? Also plan and communicate the retreat (see September) and the training event (August).
  • JULY-AUGUST:  Space and Furnishings. Where will new classes meet? What needs to be done to ensure the space is ready? Are new or replacement furnishings and equipment needed? Who will prepare the space and order furnishings/equipment?
  • AUGUST:  Prepare for Promotion and Provide Training. What do you need to do to help prepare parents of preschoolers and children for moving to new classes? What do you need to do to help teens and adults move to new classes? What do you need to do to promote new classes (bulletin, during worship, contacts/invitations, etc.)? Do you have a list of classes, teachers, and room numbers for greeters to help guests find their classes? Participate in a teacher and worker training event.
  • SEPTEMBER:  Open House and Retreat. For Open House Sunday, invite every member and prospect, offer a light breakfast, have greeters in place, wear name tags, register guests, ask people to join, and at the end of the service offer an open house where people get to meet the teachers of every class. For the Retreat, encourage 100% participation, involve everyone,  evaluate, dream, set goals, and make plans. Evaluate attendance in new and current classes. Promote and set goals for Friend Day (see October).
  • OCTOBER:  Friend Day. Make contacts. Each person extends at least 3 invitations. Host class fellowships. Have high attendance day or contact contest with a focus on inviting and enrolling new people (friends).

In Part 2, we will look at the remaining schedule (November-May). From your experience, what else should be added to these months (June-October)? Summer is busy behind the scenes. The fall is a high energy time that can bear much fruit with good planning and actions.

For more ideas about Sunday School growth, check out these posts:

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Important Sunday School Leader Job Descriptions

Monday 2nd October, 2017
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To make it easier to find the Sunday School job descriptions that I have shared over the last five years, I wanted to share them all in one post. Please feel free to customize each one to fit your vision, mission, and ministry.

GENERAL

ADULT/YOUTH CLASS LEADERSHIP TEAM

OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT JOB DESCRIPTIONS

As I write other job descriptions, I will add them to this post. Every leader in your Sunday School should be able to read their job description to understand whether they are doing the job well or not. Training should be provided to support the duties of each job description. Planning and evaluation lead to greater effectiveness. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

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Job Description: Sunday School Class Member Care Leader

Monday 25th September, 2017
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Another critical member of the Sunday School class leadership team is the member care leader. Many of our classes are losing members faster than we are replacing them. Quality contact, care, fellowship, and ministry are needed. The member care leader cannot it (and should not do it) alone! As stated previously, a job description is essential for encouragement and effectiveness. I offer this suggested job description for you to customize. What are critical duties of a class member care leader? Consider the following:

LEAD THE CLASS TO...
  • Recognize the need for care. This is more than communication, education, or training. This is also motivation and understanding why care is needed. In addition, it will be your goal unless you lead them to discuss member care and "own" the responsibility.
  • Keep good records. Keep contact records up to date. Ask members to verify address, phone, and email regularly. Record attendance weekly--even of latecomers. Notice attendance change patterns. Record results of contact and care efforts.
  • Pray. Pray together, in pairs, and separately. Pray in class and between classes. Pray for physical, spiritual, and life needs and concerns. Share nonconfidential requests so others may pray.
  • Make weekly contacts. Assign members to make contact with members, absentees, and dropouts. Communicate your care. Share about class plans and lessons. Ask for prayer requests. Pray together. Call for and record reports.
  • Organize to meet needs. Gather a team to develop a strategy. This includes a communication plan and how you will respond to needs/crises.
  • Plan/conduct fellowships and projects. Plan one of each every quarter. Invite and give special attention to invite absentees and dropouts (without embarrassing them). Plan for lots of conversation and interaction.
  • Encourage connection. Notice when a class member has fewer than 5 friends in class. Ask faithful members to invest additional time and attention with those individuals (in class and life).
  • Hesitate to drop anyone. Drop people from your member care list ONLY if they die, move out of ministry reach, or join another class (your church or another).

This valuable member of the class leadership team helps the class to care for the sheep entrusted to the class. The member care leader is a cheerleader for care and ministry with members and absentees. But this work cannot be done well alone. For more ideas about member care, check out these posts:

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Job Description: Sunday School Class Outreach Leader

Monday 18th September, 2017
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Leadership of class outreach efforts is essential to health and growth. Similarly, a job description for a class outreach leader is essential for encouragement and effectiveness. I offer a suggested job description and encourage customization. What are critical duties of a class outreach leader? Consider the following:

LEAD THE CLASS TO...
  • Pray: pray for the class people group assignment; for lost and unenrolled people; and for class actions to identify, care for, and reach lost and unenrolled people.
  • Develop a prospect care list: ask for names of friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors in your people group assignment who are lost or not enrolled in a class; determine a plan to pray for and contact prospects 2-4 times monthly; and update the list regularly.
  • Plan and invite prospects to fellowships and projects: plan one of each every quarter; make the event fun and easy to get acquainted; before the event ends, invite everyone to class.
  • Make consistent caring visits and phone calls with prospects: call/visit prospects; follow up on previous prayer requests; share class plans for lessons, fellowship, and projects; ask how you can pray for the prospect and his/her family; pray together; and report nonconfidential requests.
  • Send electronic reminders about class plans: to support caring contacts and class plans, communicate by email, text, and social media.
  • Enlist class greeters to ensure positive first impressions: welcome members and guests, register guests, encourage name tag use, sit with and introduce guests, and follow up with guests.
  • Invite prospects and guests to enroll: ask them if you can add them to the class care list for prayer, ministry, and fellowships; set a God-sized goal for new class members.
  • Offer testimony practice: lead members once a month to write it out, share it in pairs, share it with family, and then share it with prospects along life's path.

This valuable class team member leads the class to point outward. The class outreach leader is a cheerleader for prayer and care focused on lost and unenrolled people. Without new members, every class dies. This team member cannot be successful alone; class involvement is vital. For more ideas about outreach, check out these posts:

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Essential Actions to Increase Sunday School Attendance

Monday 11th September, 2017
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The actions listed will require leadership and intentionality. If Sunday School leaders do not want to work, the actions will simply create stress, resistance, and division. But in a revolutionary Sunday School, the listed actions will release power and energy, create excitement and momentum, and lead to maturational along with numerical growth. CAUTION: Work is required!

Consider the following if you want to grow your Sunday School:

  • PRAY. Don't overlook this action! Power, direction, and blessing will be missed without prayer. Pray for the following actions. Pray for leaders, members, and guests.
  • START NEW CLASSES. New classes add leaders, reachers, focus, energy, and excitement. On average, new classes grow faster than existing classes. A new class will tend to grow to 20-25 in enrollment and 10-12 in attendance in 12-18 months.
  • MAKE MORE CONTACTS. Increasing contacts with members and guests by 7-10 contacts above your usual number of contacts will result in 1 additional person in attendance. Want 10 more persons in attendance? Make 70-100 more contacts.
  • INVITE MEMBERS AND GUESTS TO FELLOWSHIPS AND PROJECTS. Fellowships (social) and projects (work/ministry) are great tools for developing relationships with each other. Why not invite guests? As guests get to know the people in the class, they will be more likely to attend the class.Offer one of each every quarter. Don't wait for them to attend class. Invite guests to your fellowship or project now!
  • ENLIST A CLASS LEADERSHIP TEAM. David Francis of LifeWay says in an article entitled, Sunday School is a Team Effort, if you are missing members of your team, you become that leader. If you want to increase attendance, you need everyone to do their job. It takes a team to invite, lead participants to discover God and His Word, and connect with each other and God (3D Sunday School).
  • SET NEW MEMBER, ATTENDANCE, AND CONTACT GOALS. Ask every class to set God-sized goals. Privately and publicly affirm classes who reach/exceed their goals. Make total Sunday School progress visual.
  • ORGANIZE TO REACH OUT AND MEET NEEDS. Enlist an outreach leader and a member care leader for every class to involve the class in discovering needs and mobilizing care to class members. Contacts to members and prospects are assigned weekly to listen, pray together, invite to fellowships/projects, and mobilize the class to meet discovered needs. Many Sunday Schools will increase in attendance if they work to keep people from dropping out. Classes will grow when they enroll more people than drop out. But care really matters!
  • LEAD MEMBERS TO SHARE A SUNDAY SCHOOL TESTIMONY. Help members assess the benefits they have received from being in Sunday School and practice sharing those benefits with each other in two minutes or less. Then challenge them to share their Sunday School testimony this week. Call for reports next Sunday. We must mobilize the laborers in our classes to be in the harvest.
  • START GROUPS AWAY FROM CHURCH. Some will never come to the church building. Surveys have shown that many who live in apartments are unchurched. Why not take Bible study to them? Research has shown that as many as 40% cannot attend on Sunday. Why not offer Bible study on weekdays at times and places when people can attend. Bible study groups can be an effective part of your Sunday School ministry.

Pray. Start new classes. Contact. Invite. Enlist a team. Set goals. Organize. Share testimonies. Start off-site groups. Make disciples. Be revolutionary! For more information about growing your Sunday School, check out these blog posts:

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Relationships (Plural) Matter in Sunday School

Tuesday 5th September, 2017
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In my doctoral research, I discovered that Sunday School dropouts tended to have two or fewer "friends they can call on in time of need." Those who had six or more friends, tended to be the most frequent attenders. Relationships (plural) matter!

Want to keep new people connected? Want to keep long-term members connected? Your group members need more than a relationship with you. They need relationships. What can you do to encourage multiple friendships? Consider the following:
  • Teach about the importance of connections. Don't assume they know. Don't try to sneak it in without them realizing it. Be open and honest. Understanding and ownership of the need are great steps.
  • Have private conversations. Seek out individuals you fear may disconnect. Share your concerns and ask how you can help.
  • Enlist a member care leader to help. This individual encourages contacts with absentees, plans fellowships and projects, encourages serving, and works to deepen and multiply relationships.
  • Offer fellowships and projects. Offer social and serving activities in order to enrich relationships beyond group Bible study time.
  • Observe interactions. When individuals appear to have few connections with your group, enlist group members intentionally to befriend them.
  • Spend time in smaller groups. Break your group Bible study time into pairs, triads, quads, etc. Give them assignments. While this is not enough for relationships to develop, it can help in affinity discovery and trust-development.
  • Notice when absent. Make contact with an absentee--even when you know why they are not present. Let them know they were missed. Express your care--without producing guilt.
  • Minister when in need. When there is a need, respond in care. Listen. Be present. Help. Relationships grow or drift apart during times of stress and need--depending on how we respond.

Teachers need help. Pray. Enlist a member care leader. Then together lay out a play for improving connections. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas, check out these posts:

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Sunday School: Reigning in a Talker

Thursday 31st August, 2017
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Does your Bible study group have a member who talks too much? How is it impacting your group? Are members starting to avoid your group or join other groups?

What can you do with someone who is overly talkative? I want to encourage you to watch a video by my friend, Josh Hunt. In the video entitled, How to Muzzle a Talker, Josh offers many practical suggestions.

I also want to encourage you to check out three blog posts in which I addressed this topic:
Watch and listen to the conversational dynamics during your group time. If one person tends to talk much more than everyone else, work to balance the experience. The more others are involved, the more satisfaction they will receive from the learning experience.

One final suggestion, make sure you are not the one who is overly talkative. If you talk more than half of the time, work to decrease your talking and to increase that of group members. Get them into groups. Ask questions. Give assignments and ask for reports. Instead of answering every question yourself, ask the group to answer them.

Keep everything you do centered in God's Word. Lead them to listen more to Him than to you. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

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Starting a New Year of Sunday School, Part 2

Monday 21st August, 2017
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A new year of shepherding the disciples in your Sunday School class is near. What will you do to get ready?

In Part 1, I mentioned that my wife is a middle school math teacher. For her, there are four important areas of preparation for the new school year:  training, planning, room preparation, and relationships. In this four-part series, I want to focus on those four areas of preparation as they relate to Sunday School. In Part 1, I focused on training. In Part 2, we will examine planning.

Our Lord and His sheep in our care deserve our best efforts. That means planning is needed. Gather a team. Pray. Evaluate. Set goals. Make plans. Provide training. What is there to plan? Consider a few ideas:
  • LEADERS. Study your Sunday School organization. Are additional leaders needed? Which ones? Where? Prayerfully plan to enlist those leaders.
  • CLASSES. Study your organization. Are some age groups missing? Plan to start a class. Are some age groups too full? Plan to start another class. Is there an affinity group in the community that needs to be reached? Plan to start a class. Each class you start usually will grow to 10-12 in attendance and 20-25 in enrollment in 12-18 months.
  • CLASS LEADERS. Study your classes. Which classes need additional leaders in order to improve the span of care? There should at least be one leader for every five persons on the class list. Prayerfully plan the enlistment of needed outreach leaders, member care leaders, apprentice teachers, and greeters.
  • TRAINING. Study the needs and practices of your teachers and workers. What training is needed? What focus is needed? Who will lead the training? When will it be scheduled? What method of training will you use? Prayerfully plan for training at least twice each year.
  • ENROLLMENT. What can be done to enroll new people? Sunday School does not grow without new people. How will you challenge your members to invite people? How will you train your people to invite people to be added to your class care lists? Prayerfully invite and enroll new people.
  • GUEST FOLLOW UP. How will you ensure that guest follow-up is consistently done in a timely fashion? How will you train your classes to make caring contacts? How will you check on progress and affirm good work? Prayerfully plan guest follow-up.
  • FELLOWSHIPS/PROJECTS. To keep members connected, they need to know each other better than Sunday only. To lead guests to get to know us better, they also need opportunities beyond Sunday. Prayerfully plan fellowships (social) and projects (work) and invite members, absentees, and guests.

What would you add to this beginning list? Gather your team to pray and plan. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about planning, check out these posts:

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Give Away of 100 SMALL Sunday School Changes

Monday 14th August, 2017
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In the Foreword of this book, David Francis, says:

Sunday School is a system. It’s a bunch of things—big and small—that make a Sunday School excellent instead of mediocre. Each relates to another and that to another and so on and so on. So what if every little thing you improved resulted in just one more person coming to Sunday School, coming back to Sunday School, enrolling in Sunday School, attending regularly in Sunday School, serving in Sunday School, and inviting another to Sunday School? Each of the 100 ideas you’ll read about in the book may seem inconsequential taken alone. But put 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 into practice and see what happens!

The book is divided into ten parts: teaching and learning, evangelism and reaching out, enrolling new people, caring for members, enlisting leaders, mobilizing the class of mission, leader development, making disciples, using classroom space well, and administering the class well. The 100 SMALL Changes articles came from the Sunday School Leader blog and were written by Sunday School champions across the country.

GIVE AWAY RULES.
The book is available on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents. But for those who Subscribe to the blog during the month of August 2017, you will receive a PDF version of this book. Only NEW blog Subscribers are eligible. Those who Subscribe will receive my new posts by email about once a week.

To receive 100 SMALL Changes, you must COMMENT to this post with your email address. DO NOT ENTER YOUR EMAIL WHERE IT SAYS SUBSCRIBE OR YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE. In August when you comment with your email, I will subscribe you. All previously subscribed emails will be ineligible.

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