Back in September, I wrote a blog entry entitled Plan, Don't Rush Your Launch of Multiple Sunday Schools. In that entry, after encouraging leaders to allow plenty of time for planning and communication of multiple Sunday Schools, I listed several resources (including some free ones) that can help with such a move. Since that time, I have discovered an additional article that can be helpful. Belinda Jolley, Adult Ministry Group Director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, has written an article entitled Multiple Sunday Schools: Things to Consider. In the article, Belinda offers some questions that can help a church as they decide when and how to move to multiple Sunday Schools.
In Part 1, I want to share her first four questions in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- WHAT LEADERS CAN BEST HELP US PREPARE FOR MULTIPLE SUNDAY SCHOOLS? Belinda's first sentence is important here: "The pastor's support from the pulpit is critical." The church needs to see this as a part of his vision for the church. He can prepare them to pray and prepare for the move. He can help them see why it is needed. He can help them understand the benefits, including wise stewardship. Along with the pastor, consider who other significant leaders should include. Certainly, Sunday School leaders can help. In most cases, gaining their support prior to making plans public can be beneficial. They will frequently help you prepare to answer questions that others will ask later in the process. In addition to Sunday School leaders, what about other leaders, such as Trustees, Finance Committee, etc.? Bring them in as needed and as may help in gaining support and momentum. Finally, there may be other key leaders who are influencers in your church. Bring them on board. Pray together with these leaders. Communicate freely with them. Listen to them. Enlist their support and help along the way.
- WILL WE PROVIDE IDENTICAL SUNDAY SCHOOLS OR PORTIONS OF THEM? Some churches choose to launch a partial Sunday School in order to relieve some stress on a Sunday School or worship servicce. For instance, they may lead senior adults or singles to move to an earlier or later time in order to continue to reach new people in the most popular hour. Even if the plans are to provide for every age group in each session of Sunday School, there will frequently be differences in how age groups are divided. For instance, fewer children may attend the first hour. So you may offer two classes: Grades 1-3 and Grades 4-6. Then in the second hour, you may offer: Grades 1-2, Grade 3, Grades 4-5, and Grade 6.
- HOW WILL WE PROVIDE FOR PRESCHOOLERS AT EACH SESSION? The issue is that some preschoolers will attend more than one session of Sunday School (extended session). You do not want to teach them the same lesson both hours. In addition, a room prepared to accommodate preschoolers for one hour is difficult to reset for another age group at another hour.
- HOW WILL WE PROJECT WHO WILL GO TO WHICH SUNDAY SCHOOL? If you do not have an idea of how many will attend each hour of Sunday School, you probably won't be prepared to handle the resulting balance. In other words, you may not have enough teachers, curriculum, space, etc. at one hour. You might survey classes more than one Sunday to get the most responses. If the balance is not at least 40/60, you might consider asking one or more classes to shift. The survey might give an option for allowing leadership to choose which session in order to achieve better balance. This should be done at leas t one month ahead of the launch.
Next time in Part 2, we will look at Belinda's final four questions:
- HOW MUCH PARKING DO WE HAVE AVAILABLE?
- HOW WILL WE HANDLE CHOIR AND OTHER WORSHIP/MUSIC ISSUES?
- HOW CAN WE SAFELY MOVE A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE AT THE SAME TIME TO/FROM THE SAME SPACE?
- WHEN WILL WE LAUNCH THE MULTIPLE SUNDAY SCHOOL?
We don't have to ask God if He wants us to make disciples of all nations. He has already commanded it. How we do so should be a matter of prayer and seeking His leadership. Certainly, for many churches multiple Sunday School can be a way to release more power for the Sunday School with very little addtional financial cost. Pray. Plan. Prepare. Communicate. Launch. Evalutate. Be revolutionary!