Many Sunday Schools today are struggling. People don’t seem to be interested. Leaders are hard to find. Attendance is down. My assessment is that many Sunday Schools are fast heading toward life support. There is little life, hope, or purpose left.
My experience over the years has helped me to make the following prognosis of these Sunday Schools:
- INWARD FOCUS. Many Sunday Schools have turned inward. They have stopped inviting new people, reaching out in care and concern, and even connecting with absent and inactive members. These churches have stopped growing. If water is leaking out of the bucket and no new water is being added, the bucket will soon be dry. This lack of outreach and member ministry is producing declined enrollment, attendance, baptisms, leader discovery, mission impact, and even giving. Frequently leaders have not only neglected others but they have neglected their own relationship with God. A personal quiet time is often forgotten or neglected.
- POOR SPAN OF CARE. The majority of adult and youth classes no longer have leaders to help teachers to do inreach and outreach. When life gets busy, the teacher without help focuses on the lesson and neglects outreach and member ministry. And by the way, life is always busy. As a result, the span of care in Sunday School is reduced. You see, one person can only care well for about five people. A teacher alone cannot care well for ten, but by adding an outreach leader and member ministry leader, the span of care allows for including more people. Large classes experience this as well, but they need many more people to maintain care, and often leadership enlistment and training is neglected.
- LEADERSHIP IMPLOSION. When the church allows Sunday School teachers to attempt to do all the work alone, new leaders are not enlisted, trained, and mobilized into ministry. For years, Sunday School enlisted and trained leaders in a safe, smaller environment. Church leaders saw the potential in these Sunday School leaders and invited them to step into new roles as committee members, teachers, ministry leaders, and deacons. But when teachers stop enlisting outreach leaders and member ministry leaders, the church experiences a leadership shortage or implosion. As a result, many churches are struggling to fill leadership roles. And classes are struggling with poor span of care.
Sunday School will fail as a tool for the Great Commission if it turns inward, has poor span of care, and fails to enlist, train, and mobilize leaders. More leaders and groups are needed in order to reach out to, disciple, and care for more people. How can you begin to move your Sunday School off of life support?
Evaluate your Sunday School in each of these areas. Which one is strongest? Which one needs to be addressed before your Sunday School and church are on life support? Begin in prayer. Gather a team. Pray together. Reach out. Care. Enlist leaders. Train and mobilize them. Increase the strength of your heartbeat, passion, and work for Jesus. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!