Why do so many Sunday School leaders aim at nothing? Why are there no expectations? Are leaders just going through the motions due to burnout? Have they been disappointed too many times? My contention in many cases today is that leaders have never been taught the value and benefits of expectations?
Leaders without expectations are not leaders. Leaders without vision allow the people to perish. Leaders without a clear sense of direction cannot successfully navigate taking the people where they need to go. When leaders have no expectations, others assume defacto leadership.
Thom Rainer wrote a great book in 1999, entitled High Expectations: The Remarkable Secret of Keeping People in Your Church. In an online article from the book, he wrote:
E. Donald Hattaway is pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Ga., a town of under 10,000. Pastor Hattaway ranks Sunday school as the primary assimilation tool of the church… In one year, the church added 100 members, and most of that growth has been assimilated into the Sunday school.
“Our church uses the Sunday school organization to contact every member each quarter,” Pastor Hattaway told us. “The Sunday school teachers carry the responsibility of organizing their classes into care groups. This system ensures close contact with each member. The pastor is notified by the Sunday school if pastoral care is needed.”
Hear the expectations in the words of the pastor. Each member is contacted quarterly with the expectation that they attend. The teacher is responsible not only for teaching but also for organizing the class into pastoral care units. And the care group leaders are the primary persons responsible for ministry to church members. They will contact the pastor only if the ministry need is great.
What is reasonable to expect of Sunday School teachers and leaders? I know we are all busy, but the work we do is for the most important Person in the universe. It has eternal consequences. Have we taken God for granted so long that we, like Cain (Genesis 4:5), offer him a sacrifice that is less than he deserves? He deserves not only our best; He deserves our all! It reminds me of the story about the missionary who refused a gift from an Indian chief in response to a plea to give his heart to Jesus. The chief looked at the missionary and said, “Your God has great understanding. He knows if He has my heart, he will also have all I possess.” Respond to His high expectations and lead others to do so!
Pray about expectations to put into place. Enlist God-called people. Share expectations up front. Hold leaders accountable for living up to expectations. Coach leaders to pursue expectations. Mutiny against mediocrity! Be revolutionary!