Every Sunday School loses members. Classes that grow do what they can to provide care, ministry, and organization to be responsive to needs of attenders and to plug the leaks. In a blog post entitled Plugging the Leaks in your Sunday School I pointed out leaks in our Sunday Schools: death, grief, job transfer out of town, change of job schedule/demands, divorce, personal illness, illness of a family member, transportation issues, lack of relationships in class, lack of involvement in the class or class activities, lack of a place of service within the class or church, children's sports activities on Sunday morning, anger/conflict, and declining irregular attendance.
In Part 1 of this four-part series, I shared responses to the first three leaks (leaving out death): grief, job transfer, and change of job schedule/demands. In Part 2, I will share responses to the next three: divorce, personal illness, and illness of a family member. Consider the following:
- DIVORCE. Among participating adult Sunday School classes in my doctoral research, I discovered that 61% of the women were married and 93% of the men were married. What does that mean? Sunday School often does a poor job of caring for the single men, widowers, and divorced men. What can a class do? Avoid siding, but provide care. Presence is more important than words, even for men. Pray with people going through or following divorce. Send cards/notes to the absentee divorced person reminding him/her of your thoughts and care. Make sure it is someone's assignment to minister to lead the class to minister.
- PERSONAL ILLNESS. Notice when a person is absent. Provide food, encouragement, and help as needed. Organize the class to be responsive to individuals needing care, such as with care group leaders. Offer to go to doctor appointments with ill attenders. Mobilize care groups to minister in time of noncontagious illness. Don't lose touch with individuals who are absent because of illness, even if it is an extended period of time. Contact them weekly. Help keep them informed about class prayer requests, lesson, and fellowship and project plans.
- ILLNESS OF A FAMILY MEMBER. Pray. Offer to help. Develop trust so attenders will share these needs. Organize to respond, such as with care groups or through the leadership of a class ministry leader. Call. Send cards/notes. Take food, gifts, reading material, cards, and other items which may connect with an affinity of the ill individual. When you care for the family of an attender, you strengthen bonds of the attender with the class. If you visit, don't overstay your welcome. Offer to stay with an ill family member so the attender can run errands or even go to Sunday School.
For more ideas about connecting people and providing care, check out these blog posts:
- Grow Your Sunday School Class by Organizing to Respond in Times of Need
- Invitation to Sunday School
- Giving Attention to the Two Doors of the Sunday School
- Measures of Assimilation in an Adult Sunday School Class
- Best Friends in Sunday School
- Infusing Sunday School with C.A.R.E.
- Grow Sunday School by Reaching out to Family Members
- Ideal Behaviors of an Adult Sunday School Member, Part 1
- The Big Four to Be a Sticky Sunday School Class, Part 2
- Actions to Plug the Leaks in Your Sunday School, Part 1