Sunday School Changing from the Inside Out

Wednesday 19th January, 2011

There are ways in which a Sunday School needing change must be led by men and women who act their way to change. Sometimes poor habits must be changed. Sometimes action must go ahead of attitude. Sometimes we must act our way toward actions we know we are needed. We must act our way toward love, act our way to care, act our way to inviting. That was the premise behind this post: Sunday School: Take the Love Dare.

But change can also be messy, hard, and time-consuming. It can be difficult to be patient in order to see progress because much important Sunday School work and change is behind the scenes. How can we prepare members and leaders for the pause between realization of the need for change and recognition of progress toward the change?

I believe television and movies today have caused us to expect quick fixes. We want instant results. We want oak trees from acorns overnight. Life and change does not work that way. Time, waiting, energy, and work are usually required.

I am becoming convinced that images captivate attention and communicate where words fail. When you come to the point I have been attempting to describe, paint a picture. Tell a story. Share a graphic. Help them to see where you are headed, what is needed, what needs to be accomplished. That image can bridge the gap between current reality and preferred reality. It can make the goal worth the work and wait.

I like a quote from a business writer, Jim Collins who is the author of Good to Great and other challenging books. This quote is from an article entitled Good to Great, like his book:

Picture an egg. Day after day, it sits there. No one pays attention to it. No one notices it. Certainly no one takes a picture of it or puts it on the cover of a celebrity-focused business magazine. Then one day, the shell cracks and out jumps a chicken.

All of a sudden, the major magazines and newspapers jump on the story: “Stunning Turnaround at Egg!” and “The Chick Who Led the Breakthrough at Egg!” From the outside, the story always reads like an overnight sensation—as if the egg had suddenly and radically altered itself into a chicken.

Now picture the egg from the chicken's point of view.

While the outside world was ignoring this seemingly dormant egg, the chicken within was evolving, growing, developing—changing. From the chicken’s point of view, the moment of breakthrough, of cracking the egg, was simply one more step in a long chain of steps that had led to that moment. Granted, it was a big step—but it was hardly the radical transformation that it looked like from the outside.

Pay attention to the hard, behind-the-scenes work of prayer. Pay attention to organization. Pay attention to good records. Pay attention to evaluation and planning. Pay attention to goals and affirmation. Pay attention to shifting from focusing on care AND outreach. Pay attention to enlisting and training the right people for the right places of service. When Sunday School changes from within, it will become apparent soon enough. Don't ignore the hard work that is not a quick fix. Your reward is coming. Change is on its way. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about Sunday School change, check out these blog post:

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