Raising Sunday School Expectations without Losing Your Hair

Wednesday 10th October, 2007

I met with a pastor and Sunday School director today who want to raise expectations. They want to see Sunday School reach its potential, and they both realized that such an effort would have to start with the teachers and leaders.

I have written on the subject of expectations previously in a blog entry entitled High Expectations Are Necessary for Sunday School's Mutiny Against Mediocrity. Too many Sunday School workers are managers rather than leaders. One statement I made in that entry was this: "When leaders have no expectations, other assume defacto leadership."

Anyway, I recommended they consider gathering their Sunday School teachers and leaders together to develop expectations, job descriptions, and worker covenants. Gather them and talk about some of these issues (and more):

  • When should a teacher arrive?
  • How much should a teacher prepare?
  • How frequently should they be in Sunday School?
  • How much should he/she train?
  • How many meetings should he/she attend?
  • How often should a teacher visit/witness? lead the class to visit/witness?
  • How often should a class have a fellowship/social?
  • How often should a teacher lead a class to have a ministry project?
  • What expectations should a teacher have for his/her members?
  • What expectations should a teacher have for the Sunday School director? for the pastor/staff?
  • How should they support the church?
  • Besides Sunday School, what else should the participate in?
  • What goals should they lead the class to set and pursue?
  • What should be the condition of the devotional life of the teacher?
When you gather a group of Sunday School teachers and leaders to talk about these questions, reaching a consensus about expectations produces ownership of those expectations. They had input into the expectations. They realize that the expectations are not unreasonable. Expectations were not enforced from the outside or without their input. They tend to be more supportive and more willing to pursue or exceed the expectations.

Those who were not present for the gathering gave permission to others to set the expectations when they were invited but did not show up. Those unwilling to live up to those expectations frequently will step down from leadership without having to be asked. Sometimes this is best. It is much better to have God-called teachers and leaders than to have warm bodies going through the motions without passion or leadership.

What questions would you add to the quick list above? Press the comments button below and leave your suggestion. Which question would bring the most discussion among your leaders? Which issue, if addressed, would dramatically improve the impact of your Sunday School? How would this expectation gathering help you lead your Sunday School teachers and leaders? What steps do you need to take to move in that direction? Pray. Plan. Expect. Be revolutionary!

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