In Part 1, I began sharing about a simple, two-part system for medium classes with 15-25 in attendance which will enable them to carry out their ministry effectively. But in Part 3, I will also suggest an adjustment for a small class (under 15). For a quick overview of the two parts of the system, check out Balancing First Impression and Connection in Sunday School. The two parts are class greeters and care group leaders–but with a slightly different twist.
Let me review how Part 1 Each class has at least two class greeters who welcome and register guests, sit with them and introduce them, and after class walk guests to find children, restrooms, and worship. In worship, they sit with guests and introduce them to those around them. At the end of worship, class greeters thank guests for attending, ask if they had any questions, and walk them to find preschoolers and the parking lot. Then in 48-72 hours, greeters call guests to let them know how much they enjoyed having them in class and worship, invite them to a class fellowship, share and ask for prayer requests, and pray together. After the call, greeters pass the baton (contact information and responsibility to continue care) to class care group leaders.
Let me review how Part 2 works. Care group leaders care for 3-5 enrolled members and 3-5 guests/prospects. They make contact weekly: invite to an upcoming class fellowship or project, share/ask for prayer requests, share about the upcoming lesson, and pray together. On Sunday, care groups gather for five minutes to take roll, share prayer requests, pray together about needs and assigned guests/prospects. Care groups plan two class fellowships and one class outreach/ministry project each quarter. Also, care group leaders pray for, enlist, and train apprentices. They meet monthly to check on care and apprentice progress, hold groups accountable, handle problems, and prepare for communication. When lesson plans call for group work, the teacher gathers care groups with the care group leader or apprentice serving as facilitator. The care group also holds each other accountable to practice a daily quiet time, employ spiritual disciplines, and participate in discipleship experiences.
I have asked friends across the state and nation to read Part 1 and Part 2 to give me some input about what would and would not work about the plan. So far I have gotten three small words of hesitation, adjustment, or concern. The first one came from a Kentucky minister of education. He is concerned about those who are less comfortable in social settings. In this system, when a guest attends class a greeter would spend time getting acquainted with the guest. But the minister of education stated, “If you were to have someone to buddy up with me exactly in the manner presented in the posting, I would be looking for the punch bowl and the purple kool-aid. Odds are…I would not go back to that church.” He added, “I have a man visiting my Sunday School class right now that is also extremely introverted and doesn’t want ANY attention.” The need is to care but not be pushy. Be interested but don’t rush. Be present but not nosy. As the minister of education put it, “I think we have to be sensitive to the individual and learn how to lead without becoming overbearing. The really tough thing is that what constitutes ‘overbearing’ is not the same for all people.”
A state convention Sunday School director affirmed the system suggested in this series. He wondered if the small class system adjustment mentioned in Part 3 would not also work in medium and large classes. In addition to this thought, he asked “what do you do with ongoing class service projects.” I mentioned that care groups are responsible to plan two class fellowships and one class outreach/ministry project each quarter. Adopting an ongoing project might require the class and care groups to make an adjustment here. The ongoing project might substitute for one, two, or all four of the suggested quarterly projects. In that case, each care group needs to have assigned times when they take more specific leadership as a care group in the ongoing project.
The third one came from another Kentucky minister of education who was concerned that a guest would have a great beginning of a relationship with a greeter and not connect as well with a care group leader. Obviously, in the small class system painted in Part 3of this series, the care group leaders are the greeters. Thus, if a good relationship/connection was made with a guest, the care group leader/greeter could assign himself/herself the guest to continue the follow up and relationship. In a medium size class which has both greeters and care group leaders, the greeter could assign the guest to the care group in which he/she is a member. That way connection is able to continue.
In the days to come, I expect to receive more input from the nearly 100 people to whom I sent a request about Part 1 and Part 2. But it is “open mike” time. What input do you have about this system? Will it work in your church? If not, why not? If it would with an adjustment, what is the adjustment? If you have a concern about the system, what is the concern? If it would work in your church, will you do it? What could you do to begin the process toward implementing the system? Care enough to organize your Sunday School classes to carry out the ministry. Be revolutionary!