I am in the middle of a six month, multi-stop tour around Kentucky training pastors and Sunday School director teams in how to grow their Sunday Schools. Response after three stops has been great. These pastor-director teams have left confident about the knowledge they gained and the planning we did. They believed they could take steps that would lead to Sunday School growth: maturational, leadership development, numerical, organization, and more. That is exciting.
I wish I could replicate here the six hours of training and planning provided. Due to the interaction, that is just not possible. But I do want to share some of the essential elements. What does it take to grow your Sunday School? Consider the following:
- Prayer. No need to ask if our Lord wants us to grow. He has commanded us to make disciples of all nations. Pray for workers. Pray for people reached. Pray for lessons to impact life-change. Pray for organization and training that leads people to minister and care for members. Pray for Sunday School.
- Growth Desire. I have had leaders tell me they don't want to grow. Almost no Sunday School will grow whose leaders lack growth desire. Prayer and study of God's Word should lead to compassion for the lost and unreached.
- Planning. Without planning, most Sunday Schools will produce the same results or less. This includes evaluation, need identification, prioritization, goal setting, calendaring, delegating, and reviewing/adjusting plans. This begins with an annual retreat and leads to monthly meetings were goals and plans are checked on and adjusted.
- Goals. Annual goals will naturally include attendance, new members, new classes, new leaders, contacts, and prospects. The keys are enlisting and releasing new leaders in new classes and enrolling and caring for new people.
- Plug the Leaks. Every Sunday School has "churn." These are people lost every year that must be replaced just to keep attendance the same. These people may die, move, or leave for any other reason. Care and ministry efforts should address as many sources of leak as possible: illness, grief, divorce, schedule, and more.
- Care Group Leaders. Every adult and youth class needs care group leaders for small groups of members and prospects. They contact their care group weekly to pray and minister to discovered needs. This helps to address the leaks.
- Prospect List. On whom should our care and ministry efforts focus? Without a target for our efforts, we can be less effective. Age groups should be assigned to every class. Then they should list the friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors who are not enrolled in Sunday School.
- Class Outreach Leader. Every adult and youth class should have one. This person is not to make all the contact efforts himself/herself. Instead, the outreach leader's job is to assign contacts to class members (equip the saints).
- Apprentice New Leaders. Sunday School cannot expand to care for more people without more leaders. The best way to train and prepare more leaders is through apprenticing. Every Sunday School leader should be apprenticing someone. Sunday School should naturally be the largest leadership development organization in the entire church, not just for Sunday School.
- Start New Classes. We need more shepherds and more sheep pens in order to care for more sheep. Even if your current classes have space, new classes tend to be more evangelistic and inviting than existing classes. And it expands the care through more leaders. New classes grow faster and will tend to spill some people they reach into other classes.
For more ideas about growing your Sunday School check out these blog posts:
- Five Essentials of Sunday School Growth
- What Is the Key to Unlock Sunday School Growth?
- Plan for Your Sunday School to Grow This Year, Part 1 and Plan for Your Sunday School to Grow This Year, Part 2
- Grow Your Sunday School: Set Goals This Year
- Sunday School’s Neglect of Organizing for Care and Growth, Part 5
- Does God Expect Sunday School to Grow?
- Four Tools for Growing Your Sunday School Class, Part 2
- Sunday School Class Growth Goals
- Sunday School Priorities: Choosing Where to Start
- Set God-Sized Goals for Sunday School Growth
- Key Actions for Sunday School Class Growth, Part 3