Balancing the Sunday School Aquarium, Part 2

Thursday 21st February, 2008

I asked in Part 1 about owning an aquarium? I said that no matter whether they are large or small, they require regular care. This ranges from choice of fish and plants, to type of water, oxygen source, how to keep the water clean, what temperature is necessary, and space required.

In a similar way, I pointed out that your Sunday School is a living, breathing system requiring regular maintenance and care. Without proper care, the Sunday School quickly becomes unhealthy. In Part 1, I shared the first installment of seven questions from a great article  written by Bruce Raley entitled 7 Questions to Assess Your Present Education Ministry. His questions may help you keep your Sunday School system in a healthy balance. In Part 2, I will share his final four questions which are in all capitals followed by my commentary:

  • WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO CAN ATTEND SUNDAY SCHOOL IN YOUR PRESENT SPACE (CLASSROOM, WORSHIP, AND PARKING SPACE)? Count the number of parking spaces used and available during Sunday School and worship. Divide your attendance in these two times by the number of cars. Multiply the resulting persons/car number times the available parking spaces to see what your parking capacity is. Remember, if any space in your church (parking, any age group in Sunday School, bathrooms, or parking) is filled to 80% capacity, growth will tend to slow or stop. If parking and worship space is adequate, but Sunday School space is needed, have you considered offering Sunday School before and after worship, with a schedule like this: 8:30 Sunday School, 9:45 Worship, 11:00 Sunday School? Do you need to rearrange classes to rooms more appropriate in size?
  • WHAT SYSTEM DOES YOUR SUNDAY SCHOOL USE TO INSURE MINISTRY TO YOUR MEMBERS AND PROSPECTS? Notice that Bruce's question says members and "prospects." Every class should have greeters in place to welcome members and guests (in preschool/children classes, that may be one of the teachers). Also, all youth and adult classes may utilize care group leaders to contact, communicate with, minister to, and pray for members and guests. Are you giving them time on Sunday morning to touch base with their groups and pray together? Is another system in place to respond to urgent needs? Are prospects assigned to classes to nurture and care for?
  • WHAT DOES YOUR CHURCH DO TO TRAIN MEMBERS IN EVANGELISM? Sunday School tends to be highly evangelistic by its nature, and especially when the teacher leads the class here. A lost person attending Sunday School will be more than 100 times more likely to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord after a year in Sunday School than after a year of worship alone. But why not train class members to invite their friends, to share their Sunday School testimony, and to share their faith? Why not help them learn a simple plan that is memorable and easy to share? This might be done by going from one class for a month before moving to the next one to give them evangelism training. It could include training your teachers away from Sunday School with the expectation that they will train their members the following month (away from or during Sunday School).
  • ARE YOUR FACILITIES INVITING TO PROSPECTIVE NEW MEMBERS (CLEAN, CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD SIGNAGE, FREE OF CLUTTER)? First impressions frequently relate to interactions with people, but they can result from observation of the lack of care of that facilities have received. Dirt, peeling paint, weeds, broken windows, marked up walls, bulbs out, mildew, piles of junk, and more may turn people away before they have encountered your people, a lesson, or a sermon. Can guests tell which door to enter? Can they find classrooms? Can they find bathrooms, worship, and their children after Sunday School? Are greeters in place to welcome, register, and lead guests to Sunday School?
I concluded Part 1 by asking, how is the balance in your Sunday School aquarium? Which of these questions needs to be addressed in your system? Which of the seven questions in Part 1 and 2 needs to be addressed first? What steps can you take this month to begin making needed adjustments? Begin now to work toward a healthy, growing Sunday School aquarium. Be revolutionary!

For more helpful posts related to these issues, look at the following:

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