In many ways, The Sunday School Revolutionary is about this very topic. This blog is an attempt to challenge the status quo in Sunday School. It is about raising expectations, about giving God our best efforts. It is about doing things right, about building a strong foundation. It is about making Sunday School effective, life-changing, and revolutionary!
The building blocks of Sunday School are the individual classes, teachers, and leaders. Revolutionary Sunday School directors, pastors, teachers, and leaders seek to make classes strong. That is why I want to share eleven building blocks suggested by Paul Hata in an article entitled How to Build and Grow a Strong Church. The first four of Hata’s “methods you can use to build and grow a strong church” will be shared in Part 1 [and applied to the Sunday School class] in all capitals each followed by my commentary:
- BUILD UNITY AMONGST THE [CLASS] MEMBERS. Growth without unity will seldom produce lasting results (if any). In fact, lack of unity often leads to bad attitudes, strained relationships, dissatisfaction, and departures from the class. I like Hata’s concluding statement for this building block: “It delights God and pleases Him when the pastor [teacher] and his people love each other, pray together, work together, serve together, worship together, win souls together, and give together as one.” Disunity may be caused by unresolved conflict. Pray about and address it! It can be caused by an internal focus rather than pursuit of God’s agenda with excitement and determination. Focus your fighting on the enemy rather than each other. Teacher, lead the class to accomplish God’s agenda!
- BE EXPRESSIVE IN YOUR LOVE FOR MEMBERS. Do this privately and in public (obviously in appropriate ways with members of the opposite sex). Do this for individuals and the whole class. Affirm people. Pat them on the back. Pray for them privately and corporately. Thank them for their support, heart, and efforts. Listen carefully when they speak. Give them your full attention. Catch them doing something good. Celebrate success. Remember significant days. Be with them in times of stress. Write cards, letters, and e-mail. Make phone calls. Make personal visits to home or work. Spend a few minutes together before or after class. Teacher, love your class out loud!
- USE YOUR PEOPLE TO BUILD GREAT PEOPLE. Remember the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:11-13: “It was he who gave some to be . . . be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (NIV). Prepare them to be God’s people. Prepare them to serve Him. Prepare them to build up the body. Lead class leaders and members to encourage one another. Organize the class to minister to one another. Lead them to serve God in needed ways in the church, community, and beyond. Help them as a class to grow in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man. Teacher, don’ try to do it all yourself; give the responsibility and work away!
- MAKE PEOPLE FEEL THAT YOU ARE THEIRS. Be accessible. Spend time with class members and guests. Let them know you are with them and for them. When the class does something, be a part of it. Hata put it this way, “It is important to spend time with your flock, live with them, love them, pray for them, work with them and seek their good not your own.” Personally be se nsitive to attenders on the fringe and lead the class to be sensitive. Pay attention to dropouts and uninvolved members. When the class gets too large for this, apprentice another teacher and lead the class to start another class.
How strong is your class? Want to make it even stronger this year? Circle one building block in each part of this three-part series (check out Part 2 and Part 3). Then number the three circled building blocks in order of priority for your class. Then begin focusing on the most important building block right away. Give it attention until enough progress has been made that you can begin work on number two. Build a strong Sunday School class. Be revolutionary!