Have you ever heard of the writing principle called the “Rule of Three?” According to Wikipedia, the Rule of Three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader or audience of this form of text is also more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes. From slogans (“Go, fight, win!”) to films, many things are structured in threes. Examples include The Three Stooges, Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Three Musketeers. The Latin phrase, “omne trium perfectum” (everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete) conveys the same idea as the rule of three.
In Sunday School, the effective leader should expect three results: REACH, RELEASE, REPRODUCE
If your Sunday School class is going to grow and reach new people, it will take all the members being on mission. Encourage your class members to share the names of lost people they know who need to be involved in Bible study. List these names on a poster in the class and pray regularly for them. Celebrate when one comes to know Christ and when they are enrolled in a Bible study class. Challenge your members to enroll at least one person in the class over the next quarter. Lead the class to become missional by finding a need in your community and plan a ministry project to address it.
Sometimes Adult Sunday School classes seem to forget where new leaders for the preschool, children, and student classes come from. They come from Adult Sunday School classes! As your Sunday School grows, you will need many more workers. Rather than be upset about losing class members to serve in these important areas of the church, you should celebrate them as missionaries from your class. Call them Associate Members or Members-in-Service. And make sure to keep them involved in the life of the class by keeping in touch with them and inviting them to all class functions. By doing this, more members will be willing to serve in the church.
Every living thing needs to reproduce. Otherwise it will slowly die away. The same is true for a Sunday School class. If you truly want to grow, then each class must reproduce itself! When is a class ready to reproduce? When the room is too full, when the teacher cannot keep track of all the member’s names, or when your apprentice teacher is ready to lead. Instead of “splitting the class” or “dividing the class”, try “birthing” a new class. Make it as exciting as having a new child or grandchild being born. Enjoy the pregnancy period as you prepare the class, and then celebrate the birth with a party!
Don’t forget…”omne trium perfectum”. Your Sunday School is not complete until these three things are happening in every class – Reach, Release, Reproduce!
Mark Donnell is the Sunday School/Discipleship specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention.