Revolutionary Adult Sunday School Teachers Encourage Members to Leave to Serve

Tuesday 18th August, 2009

If we are going to impact the darkness around us, if we are going to carry out the GREAT Commission our Lord gave us, we are going to have to mobilize more adults into inviting and winning unconnected people and in discipling them. A key piece of this task is to build great preschool, children's, and youth Sunday School classes.

Far too many adult teachers and classes are selfish, self-focused, and self-serving. They want only to feel good. They are not concerned for needs outside of their own classes. They don't see the need for teachers/workers in other age groups. Their eyes ignore the pleas and needs of people in the community around them.

A friend of mine, Bob Mayfield of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, has written a convicting blog post entitled, The Aquarium Sunday School. Allow me to share a part of what he wrote (you will want to go back and read the whole thing):

I have now gone three consecutive days...where I have had teachers in preschool or children's Sunday School classes tell me that they will be teaching alone this Sunday. From the desperation in their eyes, it appears that no help is coming soon. Sunday a children's leader told me that she is 17 leaders short of having enough adults to minister to her church's kids. At the same time, each of these churches will...adult Sunday School classes this Sunday that are full of people who should be serving instead of sitting. Their teachers have created a Sunday School aquarium where these "disciples" can be happy.

...Just to be honest, it galls me to have boys and girls in our Sunday School departments, many...who...do not have a stable family life, and so few of our adults are willing to invest a little time each week to leave a legacy in a little boy or girl's life. I mean seriously, we have grown men who are afraid of a 6 year old!...

Here are some ideas to help lead people out of the Sunday School aquarium:  

  • Elevate the mission of serving instead of sitting;
  • Pastor - support the children's Sunday School from the pulpit, you can make a hero of those who minister to kids;
  • Children's leaders - attend class fellowships. It is much easier to enlist someone to help you if you already know them personally;
  • Adult leaders - make sure your group is inviting your associate members to class fellowships.
  • Adult leaders - take pictures of adults who have left your class and serve in the children or youth departments and post them prominently in your room. Include the kids they serve in the picture.
  • Take the focus off of your group's attendance. Whatever you focus upon will be perceived by your group as what is important;
  • Share with your group that for many of those attending, their next step of growth is to leave the aquarium and venture out into ministry;
  • Pray - pray for leaders because the opportunity to reach children with the gospel is great!

I have talked about this subject before, but we are at the beginning of a new Sunday School year. Time is critical to make the most impact upon those in these younger classes. They need us. Our Lord has empowered us. The mission has been given. How will you respond? Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about encouraging members to serve, check out these blog posts:

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