In Part 1, I listed six impacts of the pandemic as we rebuild Sunday School and I addressed and shared solutions for the first impact: attenders dropped out and care reduced. Then in Part 2, I addressed the decline of outreach, and in Part 3, I addressed planning having stopped and goals declined. In Part 4, I will focus on the impact because training stopped.
Consequences Because Training Stopped
Creativity during the pandemic primarily focused on maintenance or emergency solutions. This focus on when and how to continue doing Sunday School and worship led to creative solutions such as outdoor services, radio broadcasts, online services and classes, groups that met in homes, and many more.
Leaders did not give much attention to Sunday School in most churches beyond maintenance and emergency solutions. Sunday Schools that grow tend to provide training annually for their Sunday School teachers and workers. But energy and attention were diverted. Fears triumphed.
As a result, almost no churches did training. The very few that conducted training did so online. And as online meetings grew in number related to work and school, people grew tired of online meetings. As a result, there was less interest in “another” online meeting–even if it was rarely done at church.
The consequences of this lack of training included discouragement, apathy, and ineffectiveness. Let me illustrate. I have talked to many who were lonely, frustrated, and discouraged. They were struggling to fix new problems weekly. Some were burning out and thinking about quitting. Training could have provided fellowship, encouragement, and solutions. It could have helped teachers realize they were not the only ones experiencing issues.
In addition, training reminds us of solutions we have neglected along with new ideas that could help. Instead of becoming apathetic and accomplishing less and less, training sessions could have allowed trading ideas that could have inspired and motivated action. Training could have fixed problems by recognizing creative solutions that would work. For instance, teachers might have realized the need for and value of greater teamwork.
To Rebuild Sunday School
To rebuild Sunday School new teachers and workers need training. They need job descriptions and an understanding of the basics of their roles. They need the encouragement of wise, experienced leaders. In addition, seasoned teachers need to share their ideas and be reminded of what works along with new ideas.
Training should be scheduled at least twice annually. Get it on the calendar and announce it well in advance. Ask leaders to protect the date.
Everyone who is serving receives a responsibility related to the event (if they have a job at the event, then they need to attend). Training should be practical and planned to address needs. It should be convenient and fun. Childcare and food often make events better. Allow time for conversation and fellowship.
Training can be online or in person. If it has been a while since you have had training, I recommend keeping it short. Avoid making tons of announcements; if announcements are necessary, print them. Also, narrow the training focus to only one or two of these major areas: teaching/learning, outreach, and member care.
Seek conversation. Questions and conversation lead to ownership of actions related to training. If possible, seeks ways to lead participants to practice actions related to the training. Practice increases the likelihood that what is learned will result in changed practices.
Potential training leaders can include your own people (pastor, director, teachers, etc.); leaders from other churches; associational and denominational leaders; and others. You may also find national leaders to be affordable and available, especially if you connect by an online service (Zoom, etc.).
What Will You Do?
The bottom line is that your Sunday School ministry serves a key role in the effectiveness of your church. Your Sunday School leaders deserve to be challenged, encouraged, and trained. The impact of that training is far-reaching. Make plans now to schedule great training events. Train well. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!