How Many People Does It Take to Change Sunday School?

Wednesday 30th April, 2008

What a great question! Does Sunday School change require 100% participation of everyone impacted by the change? Or is it just a majority? Or could one person bring about Sunday School change? Well, the answer is yes. Yes to which? All three questions.

Sunday School change which has the support of everyone involved is highly likely to succeed. I have seen this happen at times. There usually is a common enemy which brings everyone together for a response. For instance, changing the location for Sunday School when the heating unit has failed is almost always likely to produce 100% support. Lesson:  look for ways to mobilize the Sunday School to respond to attacks from outside.

But be careful of expecting every change to garner 100% support for the change in advance. In fact, if you wait for everyone to favor change, you sometimes will wait too long for the change to be most effective or will never accomplish the change. For instance, when needing to switch a senior adult and a preschool classroom, you may not get 100% support of all of the adult class, but the rest of the class can likely persuade those who remain hesitant to go along with the decision. I also know of a church whose deacons were hesitant to move to dual Sunday School which resulted in flat and declining attendance for about five years before the church finally moved to dual and experienced record growth again.

Finally, sometimes one person can influence change simply by his/her example. Frequently these individuals are soft spoken people who model it. When others ask about it, these people share about it/teach it. And when others around them act similarly, they encourage it and reward it. I shared this process (model it, teach it, reward it) in a blog entry entitled Three Easy Steps for Revolutionary Sunday School Change.

With some additional thoughts about change, I want to remind you of some keys to change which I offered in a blog post entitled Sunday School Change Is Needed But Should Not Be Rushed. Keys discussed included the following: prayer/vision, communication, relationships, assessment/preparation, make it simple, and be flexible/adjust. These are always good keys to consider. And in another post entitled Successfully Navigating Sunday School Change, I suggested a five-step process offered by Phil Van Auken in an article entitled Successful Change Strategy for Sunday School. These five steps included information percolation, dialogue, personalized commitment, participative implementation, and celebration and appreciation. This is a great change strategy.

Finally, I hope you always follow the Lord's leadership and you never run into opposition to needed change, but I want to prepare you in the event you do. In a blog entry entitled Opposition to Sunday School Change, I shared that Rick Warren wrote a great article entitled How to Handle Opposition. In the article, he shares lessons that can be learned from Nehemiah 4. His points are rely on God (vv. 4-5), respect the opposition (v. 9), reinforce your weak points (v. 13), reallocate resources, but don't stop what you're doing (v. 16), reassure the people (v. 14), and refuse to quit (v. 15). God in His Word has much to teach us about change. Move God's people where He leads. Be revolutionary!

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