Sunday School: Leading from Relationships

Tuesday 25th January, 2011

Today there is too much apathy in our churches and Sunday Schools. We do what is expected at work and too often have little left over for family, God, and the body of Christ. We are called to influence our world. We were commissioned to make disciples of all nations. The work is huge and will not be accomplished with leftover energy, time, money, and passion.

As a result of apathy and giving only "leftovers," often those serving in Sunday School cease to be leaders. They move from leader to manager--trying simply to maintain the status quo. Like Peter, when we take our eyes off of the Lord and His command for us, we sink. Managing the status quo of Sunday School leads to decline. Pulling back time and energy results in corners cut that lead to care not provided, prayers not said, evaluation and planning ignored, and training and expectations forgotten.

Bold, courageous leadership is needed in our Sunday Schools. But the best leadership is that which leads from relationships. What do I mean? First allow me to share my definition of leadership:

Taking a group where they need to go.

One measurement to discern whether leadership has occurred is noting whether the group has moved closer to where they need to be. While an important part of leadership is spending time with those in Sunday School getting to know them and their needs, an essential relationship on this journey is often ignored: the Holy Spirit. So one way to rewrite my definition of leadership above to reflect that essential relationship is as follows:

Taking a group where the Holy Spirit desires them to go.

Where is God, the Holy Spirit, desiring that the people go? How can we discern His leadership for ourselves and for Sunday School? How can we communicate what we have discerned? How can we lead Sunday School members, teachers, workers, and others to seek Him and His leadership?

In addition to this, relationships are also the medium of leadership. When there is a lack of trust, people will not follow. When they doubt character or ability of the leader, they will hesitate. When they don't understand where they are headed, some will resist. Communication is important, but a good leader will spend time with the people to know them. He/she will understand how best to communicate where the Holy Spirit is leading. He/she will avoid getting too far ahead of the people that they don't know where to step next.

Sunday School leadership demands time invested with God and with the sheep entrusted into our care. And not all the sheep are already in the sheep pen (John 10:16). This time, energy, and passion should be used intentionally. It should be invested carefully. It should be calendared and invested wisely. Relationships require investment of time, but the investment produces an ability to provide leadership to accomplish the work God has called us to accomplish together. Lead from relationships. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about leading the Sunday School, check out these blog posts:

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