Do You Want Your Sunday School to Survive or to Thrive?

Thursday 23rd August, 2007

Will a marriage survive with only the investment of quality time 5 minutes per day? Can a parent successfully launch a child with only the investment of quality time but in very small quantity? Can Sunday School as a whole or in a class survive when leaders invest quality time but only in very small doses? In my experience, all three need both quality and quantity because we want marriages, parenting, and our Sunday Schools not just to survive but to thrive!

In Becoming a Healthy Disciple: 10 Traits of a Vital Christian, Stephen Macchia says rightly that "Time is the most precious commodity of the twenty-first century" (p. 123). The difference between mediocre (surviving) Sunday School and revolutionary (thriving) Sunday School is often the investment of time. Mediocre Sunday School invests little, expects nothing, and receives little in return. Revolutionary Sunday School invests much, has high expectations, and realizes many rewards. Leaders in mediocre Sunday School spend as little time as possible, arriving late and leaving early. Leaders in revolutionary Sunday School arrive early and are not ready to leave when class or the fellowship is over. Relationships continue. Revolutionary Sunday School sees Sunday School as a 24/7 ministry which is worth the time it takes!

Consider these ways revolutionary (thriving) Sunday School leaders invest more time than mediocre (surviving) Sunday School leaders:

  • with God in daily prayer and Bible study,
  • studying and preparing life-changing lessons,
  • leading the class to encounters with God,
  • in individual relationships,
  • in fellowship and assmilation activities,
  • in outreach and ministry projects,
  • equipping current leaders and apprenticing new leaders,
  • mentoring new Christians and leading others to do so,
  • praying for the lost,
  • praying for the class and its impact on the world,  
  • praying for and meeting needs of members and guests,
  • personal leadership training,
  • evaluating, dreaming, and setting class goals,
  • focusing on and inviting prospects,
  • leading all attenders to participate in the lesson and class leadership,
  • listening to others,
  • affirming and stretching self and others,
  • dealing with obstacles/problems rather than avoiding them,
  • holding self and others accountable,
  • sponsoring/starting another class,
  • connecting with inservice members (teachers in younger age groups),
  • wearing name tags and greeting members and guests and making them feel at home,
  • making good first impressions,
  • sharing testimonies about the Lord and Sunday School,
  • expressing appreciation,
  • mobilizing attenders into service for the Lord, the church, and the community, and
  • preventing, improving, and removing ineffective leaders as needed.
What a list! Do you have any time investments to add to the list? Press the comments button below to share your suggestion. I know we are all looking for shortcuts, for how to get the most done with the least effort, but some things cannot be rushed.

I agree with Macchia when he said, "If relationships matter significantly to you and yours, then time is the greatest gift you can give to one another" (p. 123). That is true for our relationships with people as it also is with God. Jesus said it best: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and wit h all your soul and wit h all your mind....And t he second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:3-39, NIV). Love is spelled t-i-m-e! Invest your time in Him, your neighbor, and your class! Don't just survive! Invest to thrive! Be revolutionary!

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