Sunday School/Small Groups: Where Everybody Knows Your Name, Part 1

Friday 23rd November, 2007

The title really is more about community and relationships than about just knowing names. In some ways, this entry is part 2 of a previous entry entitled Best Friends in Sunday School. Recently, I read a blog entry by the title of Where Everybody Knows Your Name. The author talked about the difficulty of having people misspell, misunderstand, or mispronounce her name (Kieran). Since my name (Darryl) is pronounced differently (more like Karl), I identified with her writing. But it was her closing paragraph that got me thinking:

Many years ago, I watched the final episode of “Cheers” on TV.  I can’t say that I thought the show was amazing. Still, I tuned in faithfully every week because I loved the theme song entitled “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”.   Haven’t heard of the song?  Listen to it here.   The words of the song present such a great concept.  Wouldn’t you like to go where everybody knows your name?

There were many things on the show that I do not support. But the characters on the show went through many trials and celebrations together. They knew each other. In many ways, they became family to each other.

What if everyone in your Sunday School class or small group knew your name? Even more, what if the group knew a lot about you, warts and all? Would that be an incentive to be faithful in participating with the group, or not? What if you did something dumb and were embarrassed? Would you be afraid to go back? But what if you knew that the group loved you and would forgive and support you? What if they were more like family?

Here's the question at which I am driving: How do we get to the place in our classes/groups "where everybody knows your name?" How do we get to the place where we know and trust each other? How do we get to the place where we can hardly keep ourselves away from the group?

How does it begin? It begins with getting to know one another. This begins with the following:
1.        greeters (check out Revolutionary Sunday School Classes Have Greeters and Helping Sunday School Guests Feel Welcome) register guests, encourage interaction, and help with follow up;
2.        name tags (check out Be Revolutionary! Wear Name Tags in Sunday School) can help a group get to know one another in the early weeks in class and during fellowships, and they can help new people more gracefully break into the group;
3.        icebreakers (check out Using Icebreakers Purposefully in Sunday School/Small Groups Nine Reasons to Use Icebreakers in Sunday School/Small Groups, Five Suggestions for Using Icebreakers Well in Sunday School/Small Groups) are a way to go deeper than knowing n ames to getti ng to listening to one another in fun and serious ways;
4.        listening to each other and to God (check out Revolutionary Sunday School Teachers Listen to God, Members, and Prospects) leads to understanding and better communication;
5.        fellowships (check out Ten Values of Monthly Sunday School Fellowships, Reach and Assimilate People into the Kingdom Through Sunday School Fellowships, and Ways Sunday School Can Encourage Friendship-Development) are opportunities to play or work while getting to know one another; and
6.        care groups (check out Care Groups: Prayer, Ministry, Assimilation, and Invitation) help to pray for and meet needs of members and guests.

To hear another person's perspective on the connection of Sunday School and relationships, check out Lorie Hazel Green's post, Sometime You Wanna Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name.

In Part 2, we will look at some additional ingredients necessary for moving toward a class "where everybody knows your name." In the meantime, think about your class, your group, or your Sunday School/small group ministry? Which of the above six ingredients are missing or need attention? Where do you need to start in order to encourage relationship-development? Prayerfully take a step with your class this week. Be revolutionary!

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