Expectations of Adult Members in Sunday School

Sunday 20th April, 2008

What are appropriate expectations of members of an adult Sunday School class? Is it appropriate to have any expectations at all? Or should we just be happy they attend? What started my mind thinking about these questions was a brochure written back in 1976 by Mavis Allen of the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) entitled You in Bible Study Now. It was designed to congratulate and orient new Sunday School members.

You in Bible Study Now asks and answers several great questions:

  • What kind of book am I studying?
  • What am I expected to do in a Sunday School class?
  • Is it okay if I just enjoy Sunday School?
  • What is a Baptist church like?
  • What is Sunday School like?
  • What can I do to get ready to participate in a session?
  • What if I don't know anything about the Bible, and the leader or teacher asks me a question?
  • Will the Bible help me if I'm not a Christian?
I want to encourage you to read through the brochure. But more importantly I want you to be prepared to answer these questions for new members of your class or Sunday School and prospect members. Consider putting your answers in a brochure to place in their hands.

I want to point out another resource in your quest to understand the answers to the questions I asked in the first paragraph. It is a LifeWay resource entitled The 3D Sunday School: A Three Dimensional Strategy to Help Members and Leaders Fulfill the Great Commission (press the link for a free download) by David Francis. The premise is that Sunday School is a member-led movement. And the book is about the three dimensions of Sunday School that benefit and involve every member: invite, discover, and connect. Another way of looking at this is that these are three areas of expectation for our members:

  • invite unchurched friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors to class, to fellowships, and into their lives;
  • discover great stories of the Bible and faith stories of believers; and
  • connect through fellowship and ministry with each other and God.
Yet another way I have answered these questions previously has been by writing about covenants. Check out Sunday School Class and Home Bible Study Group Covenants and Benefits of a Covenant for a Revolutionary Sunday School Class. In the second blog entry, I explained why covenants are needed:

Covenants raise expectancy as well as focus energy and effort. With a covenant, many potential conflicts can be avoided since the covenant will be between all group members, including the teacher. In my experience, time taken to disucss the elements of the covenant is beneficial to the group even if the group does not agree to the terms. Getting some issues on the table can create momentum and progress even without a covenant, but even more is generated when the group is in agreement on all issues.

For more information about expectations, check out these blog posts:

Expectations are needed in revolutionary Sunday School. Our Lord left us with expectations (Matthew 28:19-20). Everyone is needed to do their part, and that includes pastors, teachers, leaders, AND members. Prayerfully invest all that you have and all that you are in serving God. Touch lives for Him. Be revolutionary!

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