In advance of responding to the question asked in the title of this blog post, allow me to share two organizing assumptions. First, the work of the Sunday School is to assist the church in carrying out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), to “make disciples of all nations.” Second, the work of the teacher is “training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11-12, HCSB).
With those two assumptions, it is essential that the strategy of revolutionary Sunday School be three pronged:
- reaching people beyond the walls of the church,
- caring for people who join the class and church,
- and helping members make spiritual progress in becoming like Christ through teaching and serving.
In order to carry out that strategy, classes will be more effective when organization exists with leaders who are enlisted for specific responsibilities. While every class member has a responsibility related to each part of the strategy, enlisted leaders help classes maintain intentional balance, focus, and energy.
By the way, every organization or structure deteriorates when it is ignored. Maintenance requires regular doses of leadership, encouragement, training, enlistment, communication, goal-setting, and more. In the adult class, the teacher is the leader or the class organization, unless another person has been enlisted and given that responsibility.
Over the years, I have seen Sunday Schools and adult classes organized in many ways. Here are a few of those many ways:
- teacher, assistant or substitute teacher, secretary, outreach leader, care groups (A Simple Two-Part System for Getting Sunday School Class Ministry Done, Part 2)
- all members divided into three teams: reaching, caring, and discipling/teaching
- teacher, secretary, and leaders for evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and worship (Sunday School Carrying out the Purposes of the Church)
- teacher, secretary/administrator, and leaders for prayer, outreach, care groups, and fellowship (Sunday School That Really Works)
- leaders for teaching, evangelism, administration, ministry, and service (Sunday School Class TEAMS)
- leaders of fellowship, intercession, instruction, service, and hope (Sunday School Class FISH Team Training)
- leaders for service/starting new classes, ministry, assimilation, reaching, and teaching (Revolutionary Adult Classes Are S.M.A.R.T.)
So how should an adult class be organized? Is one organization more effective than others? My simple answer is that the best one is the one that works in your setting. I recommend you avoid complicated or complex. Think simple. Think purposeful. Think about your people and context. Then make it fit and work. Seek feedback and input. Strive for ownership of the vision and plan.
And enlist to the vision and plan. Keep the plan and organization flexible as you fine tune it. Allow for trial and error. Learn along the way. Dream and pray big. Raise expectations.
I do recommend striving for a consistent organization or structure within all adult classes in a Sunday School. This helps in training and communication. But some classes who are doing effective work using another organization or structure could be “grandfathered” in and allowed some flexibility as you adopt a strategy.
How are your classes organized? Press Comments at the bottom of this blog post and share your organizational ideas and successes with others. Let’s give God our best effort in carrying out the Great Commission and training the saints in the work of ministry! Make disciples. Be revolutionary!