Setting Up an Effective Sunday School Class Timetable

Tuesday 19th August, 2008

There are many important reasons why you should plan your agenda for Sunday morning. Consider this small list:

  • to help you remember all the important items,
  • to keep your class balanced in its focus,
  • to involve more people,
  • to make effective use of the time,
  • to help attenders know what they are missing if they are late and thereby encourage being on time for class,
  • to keep one person from dominating the time for other agenda items, and
  • to make sure that the teacher has time to teach the lesson.
One issue is how much time is allotted for Sunday School. Most classes have between 45 and 75 minutes. If you have more time, you can allot more time to some agenda items. If you have less time, you must naturally shorten or combine some agenda items. Another issue is the class size. With fewer people in attendance, there will often be fewer people involved in the Sunday morning agenda. Another obvious but often overlooked issue is starting class on time. Any class timetable is only as effective as the person who begins the first agenda item.

What started me thinking about this class timetables and agendas was a great article by Topper Reid who is the former Minister of Education at Hunter Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The article is entitled How to Develop a Sunday School Class Agenda. In the article, Reid lists several key ingredients that make up the typical adult class agenda:

Here are a few common ingredients: greeter in place, arrival activities, fellowship time, announcements, introduction of guests, prayer time, mission report, outreach report, care group time, statistical report from class secretary, Bible study and closing.

I also loved his five tips for how to keep the class on track:

  • Decide on all the ingredients for your Sunday morning adult class agenda.
  • Arrange those ingredients in the order you wish for each class to perform those in a class session.
  • Assign a time and a typical time this should happen.
  • Develop a presentation standard for each person to meet as they perform their part of the agenda and train them to do this well.
  • Publish your Sunday morning agenda and then train your leaders to execute it with excellence.
Notice the third tip suggested assigning a length and a start time to each agenda item (ingredient). That is where many classes fail to be effective. Often they lump all the agenda items together with no expected maximum length for each item. That frequently results in the items going long and causing the lesson to have to be shortened. Instead, assign times for each segment and if they go shorter, start the next item sooner. Here is Reid's sample timeline (which assumes 75 minutes for Sunday School):

  9:00 a.m. -  Arrival and Fellowship (coffee, greeters, name tags, all leaders in place)
9:10 a.m. -  Welcome/Announcements (Person in Charge)
9:15 a.m. -  Introduction of Guests/Outreach Report (Person in Charge)
9:18 a.m. -  Mission Moment (Person in Charge)
9:22 a.m. -  Prayer (Person in Charge)
9:27 a.m. -  Teaching (Person in Charge)
9:50 a.m. -  Closing (Person in Charge)
10:00 a.m. -  Exit Room
10:15 a.m. -  Next class starts

Don't hear me saying that Sunday School has to be regimented to be effective. I have just seen too many lessons get the short end of the schedule for the day because there were no expectations in place about the agenda. I do know that if you don't talk about things on Sunday morning, they are not considered by attenders to be important. Keep essential Sunday School class work in front of the class weekly. Set an agenda. Be firm but flexible as needed. Be revolutionary!

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