Recently I have been following up a post entitled Further Reflections on Sunday School Survey Results . In that survey of growing and declining Sunday Schools, I received the following response percentages to this statement:
Classes in my Sunday School lead attenders to get involved in ministry/service/ mission projects. (Never, Occasionally, Quarterly, Monthly)
Question 36 Growing vs. Declining
- Never 8.2% 10.7%
- Occasionally 66.4% 71.1%
- Quarterly 8.2% 6.1%
- Monthly 12.3% 10.2%
Very few classes (especially adult classes) will grow who are not focused beyond those who are currently in the class. Prayer, conversation, planning, and action are needed to lead attenders to step beyond the walls of the classroom–especially if attenders have not been led to focus outwardly in a while. Mission, service, and outreach projects can be natural responses to prayer, conversation, and planning. In the same way that some marriage counselors encourage acting your way to love, classes can develop a heart for people and people groups in their community and world through projects.
According to the research, in growing Sunday Schools, classes more frequently lead attenders to get involved in projects. When there is more interaction with the community, there is more awareness of need and more relationships that are developed. These two results alone can overflow into invitations to class activities, sessions, and being added to the class ministry (and attendance) list. The research may be encouraging classes to act “loving” and “inviting” more frequently.
I have written about projects before (check out the list below). Some projects will be seasonal. Some will fit the personality of one class better than another. Some will arise in response to a need. Others will flow out of a passion or concern. Often projects with the most impact will be those which are ongoing. That is true because of relationships developed over the course of interactions of weeks and months. Relationships in the class are strengthened as they share common experiences and conversation outside of class. And relationships are strengthened with people beyond the classroom.
Where can your class start? Begin in prayer. No, I mean more than a five-minute prayer. I am talking about a season of prayer for God’s leadership. Get the whole class involved in praying. Ask Him to help your eyes to be open to the harvest and needs around you. Look for opportunities to join Him where He is at work. After the season of prayer, have an unrushed class meeting at another time than Sunday morning to share what God has been doing and saying.
We don’t have to ask if He wants us to go. He has already commanded us to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). This will happen as Sunday School teachers and leaders focus prayer and attention here and take the lead in getting it done. Pray. Discern. Talk. Plan. Touch lives. Care. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!