In thinking about barriers, obstacles, and challenges to Sunday School growth, consider issues that your class or Sunday School may be encountering. In my experience, growing churches facing barriers but are usually able to find a way around or over the hurdle. So what are your hurdles? Name them and plan to deal with them!
In Part 1, I listed a dozen barriers. In Part 2, I looked at the first three barriers: (1) apathy/spiritual immaturity/laziness, (2) busyness, and (3) lack of leadership, vision, and planning. In Part 3, I want to examine the next three barriers. Consider the following:
- LACK OF KNOWLEDGE/TRAINING. Resistance to growth ideas and plans sometimes can be traced to lack of understanding of Sunday School. How can you raise the level of understanding and expectation? Focus. Balance. Encourage. Challenge. Be persistent. Dole out training in small installments. Consider these ideas:
- give teachers/workers a survey asking for success stories and needs related to teaching, reaching out, and caring/ministering to members (as examples)
- send emails to teachers with links and blog posts
- copy web articles and blog posts and place them in record books on Sunday
- give them Sunday School books and ask them to read a chapter and then gather to discuss that chapter
- plan 15 minutes of training into your hour-long monthly teacher/worker meeting (turn it into a “growth” planning meeting)
- plan a semi-annual or quarterly training event focused on a couple of different major areas each time (check out Creative Ways to Train Sunday School Teachers for ideas)
- enlist a speaker for your teacher/worker appreciation luncheon or banquet to emphasize an important area of focus for the year ahead
- consider individual conversation/coaching; ask, “What is going well? and “What would you like for your class to do differently?” Those questions can provide many opportunities for verbal training, support, and assistance.
- INWARD FOCUS. We all get busy and focus on what is right in front of us. For the teacher and class, that means the focus is frequently only on each other and on the Sunday meeting. Growth takes place more between Sundays and focuses on those who are not already in the class. Changing to an outward focus takes prayer, leadership, planning, and action. Begin by praying for people and their needs who are not already in class (prayer changes us!). Enlist a class outreach leader–not to do all the work but to get the class involved. Gather a planning team to lead the class to take increasingly bold steps outward. Plan simple projects and work to involve everyone in the class in some way. Share pictures and testimonies.
- CONFLICTS. Conflict does not necessarily divide. It can lead to deepening relationships as you work through the issues. But ignoring conflict will create division and make growth difficult or impossible. Follow the Matthew 18:15-17 principles of conflict resolution. Teachers and class leaders should not allow conflict to fester. Approach the individuals and facilitate resolution. Pray FOR the other person. The issue is restoration of a brother or sister in Christ. At risk is our work for the Lord that we can accomplish better together. When agreement on direction is an issue, spend time praying TOGETHER before moving forward.
What would you add to the discussion about these three barriers? Press Comments below to share your list of barriers, obstacles, and challenges. In Part 4, I will expand on the first three in the list: (1) lack of ownership, (2) turfism, and (3) settling for the good rather than the best. I hope to offer some simple strategies for moving beyond these barriers. Plan. Grow. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!