People are hungry for meaningful relationships today. When I did doctoral research, I discovered that those who dropped out of Sunday School tended to have two or fewer friends in the class who “they could call on in time of need.” There are many ways to encourage relationships (name tags, care groups, interactive teaching methods, class fellowships, class projects, and more).
But I want to suggest to you that caring for members and guests in times of need is an important way to reach out and at the same time keep attenders connected. Do you want to grow your class inward and outward at the same time? Teach your class to respond with care during times of need in the lives of members and guests.
I have seen this personally. Last fall, my Sunday School class mobilized to rake leaves of an elderly woman who physically did not need to do so herself. There was much fun and relationship that happened among class members and their children in the midst of the work. Those that participated were all smiles as they told stories of the morning the next day in class.
Also, while I have shared this story before, it bears repeating. Last year, we rushed our oldest son to the emergency room complaining of chest pain. Apparently, an infection had affected his heart. Class members were alerted by e-mail to pray for us. Class members came by to pray and care. When we took him home from the hospital, different families in the class brought food to us over the next four days. One husband did the cooking for the Thursday delivery. Do you think we felt that the class cared for us? Do you think the experience made us appreciate our class? Do you think our relationship with the class was strengthened? Absolutely times three!
How would you grade your class on care? How does your class respond when there is a crisis in the life of an attender? What is the response when a ministry opportunity is presented? Does compassion produce action? Do needs produce mobilization?
Sometimes leadership and organization are needed to take steps in response to needs. If it is everyone’s job to lead, then no one may be respond. Teacher, director, pastor, make sure someone is in charge of leading the class to respond in these times. Don’t allow another person to drop out. Don’t allow another person to experience a crisis without a caring response. Pray. Enlist. Care. Be revolutionary in caring!