This is Part 6 of the Sunday School Neglect series. In Part 6, we will look at neglect of planning. Many Sunday Schools do not know how to retreat. A retreat can be a time of evaluation, assessing current strengths, recovering and regaining strength, gathering needed supplies, gaining reinforcements, deciding on a plan, and laying out the steps to accomplish that plan. Most Sunday Schools stopped growing shortly after they stopped planning. Few ever knew how take time to plan—to gain the benefits of a retreat as described above. Most, however, did not plan to stop growing. It is just a result of not planning. For that manner, many of the leaders in these Sunday Schools in which planning has been neglected did not set out to stop planning.
But like much neglect, it began slowly. At first a meeting was cancelled because of bad weather or a conflict with another church event. The annual planning retreat in August was postponed due to the nominating team not having all of the teachers and workers enlisted. Then the fall became busy and the retreat was forgotten. The pastor and director became bored with the same set of annual Sunday School events and reduced the number, jettisoning some significant outreach plans.
The teacher forgot to gather class leaders for a planning time shortly after the new Sunday School year began and did not remember it until after Christmas. The teacher training event calendared for March was forgotten until the week before and hastily thrown together; few attended. The pastor and director gathered the planning team together for a meeting agenda that required more than two hours and tried to accomplish it in forty minutes. The director submitted a budget request for the identical amount as last year because no plans have been made. Events from last year are recalendared for this year with no evaluation about their effectiveness.
The evidence of neglect is all around. Consider some of the ways that neglecting to plan can impact Sunday School:
- prayer and following God’s leadership are ignored;
- bad decisions are made because no time for evaluation was taken;
- events are not calendared at a beneficial time;
- money is not requested for resources and actions needed;
- no one is given an assignment and no one does the work;
- no deadlines are set and the work never is completed;
- no input was sought in order to create ownership of the process;
- no support is provided for the vision that is held up;
- nothing is learned from records—in fact, records are often sketchy or missing entirely;
- goals are not set or pursued resulting in lower expectations and efforts;
- the lack of intentional prioritization of needs/dreams results in the wrong focus and the wrong things done first;
- the right kind of people are not enlisted or no one is enlisted;
- the right kind of training is not provided or none is provided at all;
- and so many more consequences.
When planning is neglected, hardly any aspect of Sunday School is left unscathed. The result of neglect is adversely impacted lives, classes, Sunday School, church, community, and even world. Without planning, Sunday School becomes weaker and more self-focused. Sunday School becomes unable to help others or to desire to do so. When planning is neglected, Sunday School loses its focus and effectiveness.
For more ideas about planning, check out these blog posts: