As I stated previously, Sunday School is not “either/or” when focusing on growth or excellence. We want both growth AND excellence. Our Lord calls us to growth, and He deserves no less than our best efforts (excellence). 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. In Part 2, I focused on essentials which prepare for growth: invitation, enrollment, new classes, and salvation. In Part 3, I want to look at important essentials which are needed for Sunday School to maintain growth and excellence. Evaluate your Sunday School with these four essentials:
- CONTACT EXCELLENCE. You are a poor steward of what God has entrusted to you if you lose people out the back door of your class as fast as you get them in the front door. You cannot disciple them if you lose contact with them. You cannot train them for greater responsibility. You cannot prepare them for service (Ephesians 4:11-12). You cannot send them out into the harvest. Regular contacts with attenders, absentees, and prospects lets them know you care, allows you to pray for them, alerts you to ministry needs, and allows you to share class opportunities. Weekly contacts are ideal. Care group leaders can help a class and teacher do this well (check out A Simple Two-Part System for Getting Sunday School Class Ministry Done, Part 4).
- FELLOWSHIP EXCELLENCE. Fellowships are more than fun. They are a relationship-development strategy. They allow participants to discover affinities. They give time for class members, absentees, and prospects to slow down, chat, and connect. Fellowships should be regular. Josh Hunt recommends inviting every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month. I recommend offering a class fellowship or a class project every month. I suggest offering a class ministry/service/outreach project at least once a quarter, leaving about two fellowship every quarter. See A Simple Two-Part System for Getting Sunday School Class Ministry Done, Part 4 for how care group leaders can help a teacher get these important events done.
- LESSON INVOLVEMENT EXCELLENCE. In order to achieve retention of content, relationship-development, and encounter with God in His Word, that means that a Sunday School lesson should involve more than lecture (check out Transformational Sunday School Does More Than Lecture, Part 1 and Part 2). Every lesson should do more than make them glad they were there. They should make progress as disciples as a result of the time spent together. They should be led to apply the truth. They should be help accountable to live out the truth. This small group of believers should serve as encouragers. Teachers serve as facilitators on this journey. Divide them into smaller groups to get them all involved. Make assignments. Use a variety of teaching methods to address their learning styles. Stop teaching lessons and start making disciples.
- SERVING EXCELLENCE. The more involved in the ministry of the class that attenders are, the more satisfied and likely to stay connected that they are. Make sure every attender has a responsibility. Spend time discovering what the best place of service is for each person. Listen and observe to discover how to use their spiritual gifts, heart/passion, abilities, personalities, and experiences. If needed, start a brand new, unique service opportunity just for them. Then let them loose. Train apprentices. Launch new classes. Train care group leaders. Launch care, prayer, and ministry. Serve each other with excellence. Make every person glad to have a class that cares. Lead them to share their testimony of the impact of their Sunday School class (check out Grow Sunday School by Sharing Your Sunday School Testimony).
These four preparations for growth are necessary not only for Sunday School growth but also for 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. Go back and review Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. Which of these twelve essentials of growth and excellence are your key need? Don’t try to do them all at once. Focus on one or two at a time. But be effective in pursuit of Sunday School growth and excellence. Be revolutionary!