As I have said in previous parts of this series, every Sunday School loses members. Classes that grow are ones that provide care, prayer, ministry, and organization to meet needs and plug the leaks. In a blog post entitled Plugging the Leaks in your Sunday School I listed Sunday School leaks: 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, Part 2, and Part 3 of this four-part series, I shared responses to the first nine leaks (leaving out death). In Part 4, I will share responses to the final four leaks: lack of a place of service within the class or church, children's sports activities on Sunday morning, anger/conflict, and declining irregular attendance. Consider the following:
- LACK OF PLACE OF SERVICE IN CLASS OR CHURCH. Pastors and teachers were given to the church to "equip the saints for works of service" (Ephesians 4:11-12). In order to disciple and keep members connected, every adult class needs a service leader. This leader could also help the class select and prepare for outreach, service, and ministry projects. But an important responsibility would also be to assist every member in finding a place of service in the class, church, or community where he/she can (1) practice what was learned and (2) meet the needs of one of the least of these. Those who have a place of service are more likely to feel they are making spiritual progress, and they are more likely to develop deeper relationships with those with whom they serve.
- CHILDREN'S SPORTS ACTIVITIES ON SUNDAY MORNING. It does little good to complain about this reality in our society. Instead, why not look for a way to capitalize upon the situation. Why not meet with the team before or after the game for a Sunday School lesson, even if it is earlier or later? Why not provide a celebration for the team? Why not keep in touch with parents and/or coaches to know how the team member did, and then call the player to affirm what you heard (and let him/her tell you about it)? Remember, we are trying to keep him/her connected. Look for ways to continue and strengthen the relationship even when the player is not able to attend on Sunday.
- ANGER/CONFLICT. Sometimes a member leaves class angry. Perhaps there was a conflict in class or at a fellowship or even unrelated to the class. The teacher should take the lead in attempting to lead the parties who are angry or in conflict to resolution--for the good of the individuals and the class. It is important to follow Matthew 18 conflict resolution principles. First should be an attempt to lead them to settle things one-to-one. Ignoring the anger/conflict does not make it go away. If they need help, the teacher should offer his/her help or that of another individual. It can be taken further if necessary, but remember that the goal is to gain both "brothers" back.
- DECLINING IRREGULAR ATTENDANCE. First of all, this should never go even one week unnoticed. Keep good attendance records, and keep in contact with all members, especially a bsentees. Provide ministry immediately where needed. Notice when there seems to be a declining pattern over time (job of class secretary), even when he/she has had a good reason for every absence. Pray for the individual. Encourage intentional relationship-development by others in the class with those who appear to be disconnecting. Invite the absentee to a meal. Visit over coffee or coke. Invite him/her to go with you to a class fellowship or project. Put a system (like care group leaders) in place in your class to pray, contact, and care for the person.
For more ideas about connecting people and providing care, check out these blog posts:
- Irregularity: Addressing Every-Other-Week Class Attenders
- Three Simple Actions to Increase Sunday School Attendance
- Pursuing Sunday School Dropouts
- Actions to Plug the Leaks in Your Sunday School, Part 1, Actions to Plug the Leaks in Your Sunday School, Part 2, and Actions to Plug the Leaks in Your Sunday School, Part 3
- Care Groups: Prayer, Ministry, Assimilation, and Invitation
- The Big Four to Be a Sticky Sunday School Class, Part 2
- Sunday School Class TEAMS
- Adult Sunday School Class Attenders Can Benefit from an Encourager
- Love People to Jesus Through Sunday School Class Serving Projects
- Sunday School Can Help ’Church Switchers’ Stay!
- Five Dimensions of a Healthy Sunday School Class