Previously in a blog post entitled Plugging the Leaks in your Sunday School I pointed out leaks in our Sunday Schools. There I mentioned death, grief, job transfer out of town, change of job schedule/demands, divorce, personal illness, illness of a family member, transportation issues, lack of relationships in class, lack of involvement in the class or class activities, lack of a place of service within the class or church, children’s sports activities on Sunday morning, anger/conflict, and declining irregular attendance.
Every Sunday School loses members. Those that grow tend to do a better job of plugging those leaks. (Remember, this is about more than about attendance alone. It is about care for people.) Classes that grow do what they can to provide care, ministry, and organization to be responsive to needs of attenders. Let’s look at each of the leaks mentioned and suggest possible responses. In Part 1 of this four-part series, I will share responses to the first three leaks (leaving out death). Consider the following:
- GRIEF. Grief is a natural response to the loss of people and things. Grief can be triggered by the death of a spouse, child, parent, or friend. It can be loss due to divorce or breaking up a dating or engaged relationship. It can be loss of a job, due to a move, or caused by a pet’s death. It can be response to major world events. There are several stages of grief that nearly everyone will go through which take time to work through. Presence is more important than words. Ongoing attention and ministry are needed beyond the time of the crisis or cause of grief. A Sunday School class should be prepared in advance to respond during and following crises. Enlisting a point person (such as a care, ministry, or prayer leader) for the class is key. Establishing standard steps of response can save uncertainty, and they can be adjusted according to circumstances and needs. Perhaps this could be assigned to the class prayer leader who could create an immediate and long-term care calendar of care responses.
- JOB TRANSFER. Even when a Sunday School class will lose an attender to a job transfer out of the ministry reach of the church, the class can continue its care. Have a going-away party for the person. Get information about the area to which the attender is moving, and offer some suggestions of a some good churches in the area. Affirm the individual and encourage him/her to invest in a class there. You might even call one or two of the churches and encourage leaders there to make contact with attender who is moving. This can be a big ministry in military churches! Having a plan in place and a person in charge leads to more consistent results of care and ministry.
- CHANGE OF JOB SCHEDULE/DEMANDS. Sometimes people change jobs. And with the job change, some will experience a change of job schedule or job demands. It may be that the new job demands travel on some Sundays. It may result in working on Sunday morning. The class should care enough about each other and communicate well with each other in advance of this happening and be aware when these changes are coming. So it should not be a surprise for the class. That may mean special efforts to communicate to the attender who has to miss: information about fellowships, projects, lessons, and class plans. A Facebook page and email can keep the individual connected to the class. Again, having a person in charge (like a care group leader) can help here.
What other ministry, care, and organizational efforts come to mind when you look at these four Sunday School leaks? Add your thoughts by pressing Comments below. In Part 2 , we will look at the next three leaks: divorce, personal illness, and illness of a family member. Pray. Help teachers and class members recognize leaks and the need to address them. Provide care and organization to slow the leaks. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!