Improve Sunday School by Agreeing on Group Guidelines

Tuesday 27th November, 2007

Want to improve your class environment? Want to deepen relationships? Want to make the Bible study experience richer? Want participants to get more involved? Then allow me to propose that your group work on developing some group guidelines or a group covenant.

How do you go about doing so? Gather your group at its regular time. Have an abbreviated Bible study/devotion and save a chunk of time. You don't want to be rushed. And ideally you want to complete the discussion/group work in one session. It is preferable to complete this exercise in the first week or two of a group, but it can work even in groups that have been together for years. If the group has been together for a while, you will want to let them know in advance that this will happen. Make sure you invite everyone, including people who were absent when you informed the group. Ask them to be in prayer about ways the group can relate more effectively and support one another in order to get the most out of the group experience.

Then when the group is gathered to begin working on the group guidelines, tell them that you will be working for consensus on all issues. You will work through areas to include in the guidelines until everyone is supportive or at least willing to go along with the rest of the group. Let everyone know you expect their involvement in the discussion and decisions.

What are some of the areas that should be discussed and included in group guidelines or covenant? Eric Metcalf has offered a document that may be helpful. It is simply entitled Group Guidelines. In his document, he includes:

  • number of weeks the group will meet,
  • day, time, and place the group will meet,
  • making attendance at the group meeting a priority,
  • participation (everyone is expected to participate and no one dominates--I like this one),
  • confidentiality,
  • support/helping one another,
  • empty chair/inviting new people,
  • accountability,
  • goals,
  • support of the leader, and
  • prayer.

This is a good list. There may another area you think should be added. Add it. I want to caution you not to make the list too long. And you may have to remind the group after they have agreed on the guidelines that they did so when they are not living up to one or more of the guidelines. If they are not held accountable to keep the guidelines, then the guidelines become worthless.

What would happen if your Sunday School class or small group were to adopt guidelines? What facet of group experience would improve the most? Where is it most needed? Where might your group struggle the most in discussing and agreeing on the guidelines? Pray. Lead your group to talk about each guidelines. Write them down. Get participants to sign them. Hold them accountable to keep them Watch as your environment becomes one in which group members thrive. Be revolutionary!

Comments [0]