Is Sunday School an event or a strategy? Don't rush to answer that question. How would the people in your Sunday School or class answer that question? Do they think of Sunday School as one hour each week or as a strategy for reaching, teaching, and ministering?
Without regular communication and leadership, Sunday School work tends to focus only on the Sunday morning event. It becomes primarily about prayer requests, the lesson, and a dash of fellowship. It becomes more about being together at the church on Sunday morning. Thinking and acting become event-driven.
What can we do to raise the level of understanding and expectation related to Sunday School? How can we change mediocre Sunday School thinking into revolutionary Sunday School thinking? How can we move Sunday School thinking and acting from event to strategy?
I want to share a few ideas, but this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Press Comments below to add your thoughts to the conversation. Here are some ideas:
- PROPER ENLISTMENT. Perception of the purpose of Sunday School begins early. Many assumptions are made simply by observation. Personal enlistment can begin a shift in expectations for Sunday School being more than an event.
- JOB DESCRIPTIONS. Without a job description, leaders rely upon observation and perception rather than expectations to measure success in what they do.
- APPRENTICING. The best way to impact practice and expectations is to apprentice new leaders and pass along the "strategy" DNA.
- SPAN OF CARE. When the teacher tries to do all the work of the class, he/she is cheating class members from opportunity to be equipped to "serve" and to practice what they are learning. Also, when the teacher tries to do it all, he/she cannot do everything well alone. That means the job gets reduced to and event for the survival of the teacher's sanity.
- OUTREACH. Enlisting class outreach leaders to lead the class to seek people who are lost and unenrolled in Sunday School is a concrete action that moves thinking and acting to beyond Sunday morning and beyond the church facility. This is always aided by the presence of an up to date prospect list for every class that has names equal to the number enrolled in the class.
- MINISTRY. Enlisting class care group leaders to lead their groups to make weekly member and prospect contacts for fellowship, ministry, and prayer moves members to be trained in shepherding others and to act and think beyond Sunday and the classroom.
- FOLLOW UP. This goes two ways. First, when the class is mobilized to follow up on guests, thinking and practices move beyond Sunday and classroom. This could include making visits and calls as well as inviting for meals. Second, when a need is expressed, the class should be organized (perhaps through care groups) to respond to meet the need expressed whether in class or between classes.
- FELLOWSHIP. There is not adequate time on Sunday morning to successfully build great relationships. Time is needed between Sundays (at or away from church) to get members and guests together in social and ministry project opportunities.
- TRAINING. What is important should be the focus of training provided for leaders in order to challenge them to give their best for their Lord and the sheep He has entrusted into their care. This should raise expectations and affirm progress related to the items in this list. In addition, it should offer fresh ideas in these areas as well.
- AFFIRMATION/REWARDS. What is important is rewarded. If the only thing rewarded is attendance on Sunday morning, then that is where they will aim. Instead, reward and affirm actions which lead class es to reach out, mobilize members, minister, and grow. Catch classes doing something good beyond the walls of the church, and share their stories.
- NEW CLASSES. Starting new groups points toward reaching out. It includes new leaders. It develops new relationships. It demands balanced, effective work beyond Sunday and church.
- DREAMING, GOAL SETTING, AND PLANNING. Set aside an annual time for a Sunday School growth retreat for fresh spiritual preparation, evaluation and visioning, need identification, prioritization, goal setting, and planning. Include training in the event. Work toward "ownership" of the plans by participants.
- ACCOUNTABILITY. Without regular times to check on progress of the goals and plans from the retreat, all the effort and work will fizzle. Set aside monthly growth planning meetings to debrief progress, celebrate victories, and adjust plans. Continue to raise the vision, expectations, and focus of your efforts.
For more ideas about Sunday School as a strategy, check out these blog posts:
- Sunday School That Really Works
- How Can We Get New Members in Sunday School/Small Groups?
- How Should an Adult Sunday School Class Be Organized?
- Push and Pull People to Sunday School/Small Groups
- Sunday School Class FISH Team Training
- Three Simple Strategies to Increase Sunday School Attendance, Part 1 and Three Simple Strategies to Increase Sunday School Attendance, Part 2
- Class Size vs Room Size
- How Many People Does It Take to Change Sunday School?
- Moving Worshippers into Sunday School/Small Groups
- Sunday School Praying for New People
- Grow Sunday School by Enrolling Church Members
- Launch New Sunday School Classes on Special Occasions Like Father’s Day
- Sunday School New Birth Stories, Part 3
- Sunday School: Caring Enough to Reach Out
- For What Is Your Sunday School Known?
- Connecting 110% of Your Congregation in Life-Changing Sunday School Classes, Part 2