Improve Sunday School by Going Late

Thursday 31st May, 2007

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Revolutionary leaders desire to give God their best efforts. One way to do this is for leaders to set a positive example for others. One example to set is for teachers to arrive at least 15 minutes early for Sunday School. For pastors, staff, and directors, I recommend arriving at least 30 minutes early.

But allow me to offer one exception to this recommendation. Periodically, perhaps two or three times per year, I want to encourage you to show up late for Sunday School. Intentionally. Why? Because leaders frequently have no idea what is happening from the perspective of guests because they are already in service, in place, and involved.

So, I want to recommend:  show up for Sunday School 15+ minutes late and observe what is happening:

  • what is traffic into (and out of) the parking lot like at that time?
  • how many cars are in the parking lot? how many spaces are empty and where are the spaces?
  • do guests know where to park? do they know which door to enter? how are they greeted?
  • are guests asked to complete a registration card? are they escorted to their classes?
  • are members and guests wandering the halls? are they still gathered around coffee and donuts?
  • are teachers still not in place? have classes still not begun? are class greeters sitting with guests?
  • have hallways and bathrooms been trashed? are there any odors?
  • have teachers begun their lessons? are resource kit items being used?

I want to recommend a blog entry by Mark Waltz, Pastor of Connections at Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana. His blog, because people matter, had an entry recently entitled, Go to Church Late. That entry reminded me of the benefit of arriving late on purpose.

There are scores of additional questions you can ask. Observe. Learn. Make notes. I like Mark's suggestion of taking a few snapshots. Share what you saw. You might even ask someone to join you on your journey through "late arrival." Look for opportunities to affirm. Look for ways to improve. Fix problems. Address others. Next time you might even enlist a "mystery shopper" who does not attend your church to observe and write up a report about their experience of answering your questions/doing what you do. By going late, you just might make Sunday School a revolutionary experience for every member and guest.

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