Sunday School is not “either/or” when focusing on growth or excellence. It is “both/and.” We want both growth AND excellence. Our Lord calls us to growth, and He deserves no less than our best efforts (excellence). 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 focused on four essentials which raise excellence: enlistment, training, planning, and coaching. Where are adjustments needed in your ministry? In Part 2, I will focus on essentials which prepare for growth. Evaluate your Sunday School with these essentials:
INVITATION GROWTH. The vast majority (more than 80%) of people who show up at our churches and Sunday School classes are there because they have been invited. Lead your people to invite friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors. Teach them to connect with unenrolled people during stressful times of life. Lead them to act caringly. Extend invitations to fellowships, meal, and class sessions. Teach attenders how to share their Sunday School testimony (check out Sunday School Testimony: Powerful Revolutionary Tool). Think about it this way: if you don’t invite them, they won’t come. Caring follow up is key for those invitation to result in attending.
ENROLLMENT GROWTH. Ask unenrolled people for permission to add them to your class ministry-fellowship-prayer list. That is your class roll. Avoid saying “join” since some people may think you are asking them to join the church. People don’t even have to have attended your class. Once people say “yes” to enrollment, make sure you follow that with care through ministry, fellowship, and prayer. In general, as you enroll more people and care for them, the new people will attend in about the same percentage as those already on your class roll. So enroll, care, and watch your class attendance grow. Ask church members and family members not enrolled to join. Consider adding a couple of prime prospects to your enrollment and focus your care on them. Watch as they join the class.
NEW CLASS GROWTH. New classes tend to grow faster than existing classes. They reach new people. They are more evangelistic. On average new classes will grow to 20 in enrollment and 10 in attendance in about 12-18 months (some faster, some slower). This is true because there is expectation for growth in new classes. And because your Sunday School is adding more workers to care for more people and to reach out. Many of our existing classes no longer expect or invite new people. When guests attend, they don’t follow up. New classes help the Sunday School to continue inviting and expecting new people.
SALVATION GROWTH. New classes are more evangelistic because new classes tend to reach more lost people and about one out of three lost people will accept Jesus as Savior and Lord through attending Sunday School over a twelve-month period. Every class should realize the impact of Sunday School and prayerfully reach out to lost friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors. Nearly any lesson can be evangelistic. In addition to leading attenders to share their Sunday School testimony (see above), adult and youth attenders should be led to practice and share a simple evangelistic testimony as well.
These four preparations for growth are necessary not only for Sunday School growth but also for excellence. In Part 3, I will focus on Sunday School essentials which are needed for Sunday School to maintain growth and excellence. Which of these four essentials is in need of the most adjustment and help in your Sunday School? 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!