When thinking about Sunday School, it is not “either/or” when focusing on growth or excellence. It is “both/and.” We want growth AND excellence. Our Lord calls us to growth, and He deserves no less than our best efforts. The call to make disciples of all nations (Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20) is based upon giving His life. In love, we give our lives in service to Him in pursuit of those who are not already in the sheep pen (John 10:16).
On the way toward growth and excellence in our Sunday School efforts, there are several essentials. In Part 1, I want to focus on four essentials which raise excellence. Where are adjustments needed in your ministry? Consider these four essentials in your Sunday School:
EXCELLENT ENLISTMENT. Excellent enlistment begins with prayer. Time should be intentionally invested in prayer prior to enlistment (and all the way through it). This means prayer for God’s leadership and help, for Sunday School needs, and for the Holy Spirit’s advance work in the lives of those to be sought. Excellent enlistment means knowing Sunday School needs, responsibilities, and roles. It means having job descriptions and knowing expectations for workers as well as resources provided. It means making face-to-face visits with one person for one position at a time. Bottom line: excellent enlistment means seeking God-called people for life-changing opportunities for service in the Sunday School.
EXCELLENT TRAINING. Like enlistment, excellence in training begins with prayer. Seek God’s leadership for how, when, and what to address in training. Observation and assessment of needs which should be addressed in training will be continual. Excellent training begins with apprenticing. All current workers should included apprenticing another worker as part of their job description and expectations. In addition to apprenticing, new leader training should be provided for every worker (not just teachers) before starting. And ongoing training should be provided throughout the year in a variety of delivery methods (conference, book reading and debriefing, during planning meetings, and more). Communicate the expectation of training during enlistment. Statistics have shown that growing Sunday Schools train their leaders. Do so with excellence!
EXCELLENT PLANNING. Sunday School growth and excellence demands planning. Planning also begins with prayer for God’s leadership. Annual planning prior to the start or just after the start of the new Sunday School year helps to evaluate, affirm success, identify needs and dreams, focus on priorities, set goals, and make plans for the year. Then monthly meetings help to check on progress, adjust where needed, as well as communicate plans and needs. Communicate the expectation of participation in planning meetings. Even classes will want to plan in order to growth with excellence.
EXCELLENT COACHING. Coaching is an ongoing relationship of encouragement by the pastor, Sunday School director, and others (in medium and larger churches). Coaching also begins with prayer. The coach especially invests frequently in the early weeks of a new worker (in a class, the teacher may serve as a coach for class officers). But the coach invests in every assigned teacher regularly (monthly or quarterly beyond Sunday mornings), checking on what is going well and areas where adjustments are needed. The coach checks on goal and apprenticing progress as well as reminds about training, planning, and other events and communication.
These four essentials are necessary not only for Sunday School excellence but also for growth. In Part 2, I will focus on essentials for Sunday School growth which are needed for Sunday School to be done with excellence. Which of these four essentials is in need of th e most adjustment and help? What can you do in the next month to begin to strengthen this essential? How can you calendar to make sure these essentials are addressed. Don’t be busy spinning your wheels. Be effective in pursuit of Sunday School growth and excellence. Be revolutionary!