In Part 1, I listed six impacts of the pandemic as we rebuild Sunday School: (1) attenders dropped out and care reduced, (2) outreach declined, (3) planning stopped and goals declined, (4) training stopped, (5) teachers quit and are burning out, and (6) classes ended and no new classes started. For more thoughts check out How Will You Rebuild Your Sunday School Post-Pandemic?
In Part 1, I addressed and shared solutions for attenders who dropped out and care reduced. Then in Part 2, I addressed the decline of outreach. Part 3 will focus on the impact of planning having stopped and the decline of goals.
Two of the largest impacts of the stoppage of planning during the pandemic are (1) the reduction in prayer for and about Sunday School and (2) talking and working together as a Sunday School team. Satan desires that we work solo. I have talked to so many leaders who were discouraged because they assumed they were the only ones experiencing their problems–until they talked with me or others.
Not giving our best to God is never acceptable, and not asking for His help and leadership is asking for failure. God has given us the body and the gifts of the body to carry out the work together that He has given us. When planning stopped, groups stopped gathering to pray and work together. The result was a lack of strength from working together. One result (see next section) was fewer and smaller goals. Other results included lower vision and expectations.
A lack of planning, vision, and expectations inevitably results in a failure to plan or pursue goals. In my observation of Sunday Schools, goals were more about survival (of the pandemic) than about carrying out the work the Lord has given us. Goals (if any) were focused on maintaining rather than on leading.
Let me illustrate. Goals focused more on shifting to when or how a few would continue to meet (such as Zoom, on in a large space, etc.). Without an ongoing goal, contacts with absentees began strong but declined quickly. The result has likely been many lost permanently. Without goals, invitations to prospects and guests in Sunday School have been almost nonexistent.
Other goals which declined included enlisting new leaders, starting new classes, training current and new leaders, fellowships and projects, and much more. The result of the disappearance of goals has been very few Sunday Schools or classes who have grown during the pandemic. Many classes have ended. Many teachers have retired or quit. And moving forward has been slow and difficult.
To Rebuild Sunday School
I understand the impact of the pandemic on gathering and planning. But part of planning is to figure out safe ways to accomplish our goals under the circumstances. When obstacles appear, we plan ways to go around them. Instead of stopping our planning and goals, we meet in a large space–with masks if necessary. Rather than stop, we meet on Zoom (and send the recording to those who miss the meeting). We ask for the input of everyone and we give everyone important tasks to carry out.
Planning (together) starts and moves forward in prayer. It brings the group together to encourage and challenge one another. It honestly evaluates, identifies needs and priorities, sets goals to address priority needs, and plans and assigns actions to carry out those goals. Planning then follows up to ensure that we make progress and adjust plans when needed.
To rebuild Sunday School, we must set a date to gather to pray, plan, and set goals together. The sooner we gather, the sooner we begin to carry out the work the Lord has given us and the sooner we begin to move forward.
In Part 4, I will focus on the stoppage of training–which has had major impact. In the meantime, evaluate your Sunday School class or ministry. Is it time to pray–together? Is it time to plan and set goals–together? When can you set a date to do this? Get it on the calendar. Protect it. Promote it. And make it important, practical, and fun. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!