A friend of mine who serves a church in western Kentucky forwards helpful blog posts to his Sunday School teachers and workers. After passing along a blog post recently, his teacher responded this way:
I’m going to be honest here. I agree with this article but I don’t know how to do this. It’s 100% true that we need to transform our classes from a “noncommittal” mindset to one of “ownership”, focused on missions and reaching others for Christ. I believe we all know this, we all believe this, and we all want this. The thing is…we do not know how to do this….
I believe our Sunday School teachers are very good at teaching the lesson but we’re not all good at leading others in fellowship, missions, etc. Some of our teachers have personalities that are good at leading fellowships…at leading missions. But no one teacher is good at leading all of it.
The average Sunday School member expects the Sunday School teacher to be the teacher, facilitator, missions leader, fellowship director, etc. But the Sunday School teacher can’t be all of these things. We must have those gifted in these areas to step up in each class.
How do we change this mindset and get the average Sunday School member to take ownership and use their gifts within the class?…I really believe this is the key to the whole thing. This is my burden and my prayer. If we ever figure this out, our Sunday School groups and our care group ministry will take off. (bold emphasis added)
Wow, that is an insightful response and a great question. While I want to share my replies to my friend, I also want to throw the question out to readers for a response. Here are the thoughts I shared with him:
- raise the awareness of what an ideal class should be doing and the fact that the teacher cannot/should not do it all
- begin with a season of prayer for the roles/responsibilities and the persons to fill them (personal prayer time and then class time)–don’t say “yes” to anyone until the end of the season of prayer
- remind the class that pastors and teachers are given to the church to equip the saints for works of service (meaning so they can carry out the work)
- apprentice leaders, one at a time, toward a responsibility; get them to help you and then release the responsibility slowly to them when they are ready
- personally enlist rather than announce needs; prayerfully approach one person for one task
- write out descriptions of what each position will do/would look like/will help the class–this helps people understand what success looks like and whether they are willing to invest in it
- don’t rush the shift of mindset; work steadily but avoid forcing the organization/roles upon unwilling people
- personally, I believe care group leaders can be a key to helping bring all this into reality (check out A Simple Two-Part System for Getting Sunday School Class Ministry Done, Part 4).
How would you respond to the question, “How do we change this mindset and get the average Sunday School member to take ownership and use their gifts within the class?” Press Comments below and share your experiences and thoughts. Let’s learn from each other. Pray. Raise the vision. Enlist personally. Apprentice. Be patient and persistent. Be revolutionary!