In Part 1, I stated that spouses who desire a vibrant marriage, intentionally commit to each other and invest communication, time, love, care, patience, and more in the relationship. Similarly, no class can experience significant growth while at the same time lacking commitment and ignoring the needs and relationships of members of the class. You cannot grow a vibrant class by opening the front door and forgetting to close the back door. You must maintain great connections as well.
What can your Sunday School classes do to lead attenders to commit and take steps to maintain great connections with each other? In Part 1, we looked at the first five of ten suggested areas: commitment, fellowships, projects, prayer, and eating together. In Part 2, we will consider the final five suggested areas:
- CARING CONTACTS. Contacts in person, by phone, by mail, or through electronic means are motivated by care and relationship. That means that contacts are made even when attendance has been faithful. When a person misses, that simply raises the level of concern. Because consistent contacts are made with every person in the class, there is no fear of a person dropping out without someone noticing. These contacts are usually assigned to care group leaders who may assign them to members of their care groups to share in the care.
- LISTENING. Connections are made and maintained through listening more than talking. Listening takes relationships beyond the superficial and leads to affinity, need, and feeling discovery. Classes are strengthened when the teacher or other class members help the class learn the art of listening. This includes looking for facial expression and body language as well as tone to go along with the words that are spoken.
- APOLOGIZING. Even when people care about each other, misunderstandings and conflict can occur. Sometimes it helps to clarify the truth, but often an unqualified apology is needed. I remember apologizing once for my lack of action. I didn’t believe I had done anything wrong, but I knew relationship with the individual who felt hurt was important. Unfortunately, some individuals and classes allow people to disconnect following difficulties. Help each other avoid this.
- PARTICIPATION. Kingdom impact demands high participation of all class members in class sessions and class activities between sessions. Pull people into participation. Ask them to help you with a fellowship. Take them with you to make a visit. Assign them a report or contact. Give everyone a responsibility. There will be greater satisfaction with the class and a deeper sense of spiritual progress when attenders participate in the life of the class.
- MEETING NEEDS. Without the previous four actions to maintain and deepen connections, attempts to meet needs will be shallow and erratic. In fact, the five areas from Part 1 also impact the relationship and lead to greater openness in sharing hurts and needs. Questions can aid in need discovery and clarification. But knowing is simply the first step. Then individuals, the care group, the class, and/or the church must respond to the need. Unmet expressed needs can lead to feelings of disillusionment and distance. Timely caring response is important.
Considering these five areas and the five from Part 1, what additional actions, big or small, would you add? Challenge your class to take steps toward even more meaningful connections with each other. Commit to grow. Commit to care. Commit to communicate. Commit to have fun and learn together. Be revolutionary!