Annually my eye doctor performs a visual field test (perimetry). While looking with one eye, I press a button each time I see a white dot appear on the screen. The test creates a picture of where peripheral vision may be lost (glaucoma). If I refocus each time to where the white dot was, I will perform poorly. I must avoid being distracted and instead focus more on the center. Some, like my wife, despise the test, even though they need it.
Many Sunday Schools and classes lack vision. This comes in two varieties. The first has missing vision. They have no vision at all; there is nowhere to focus. But too many Sunday Schools and classes have distracted vision. Leaders look around at everything while focusing on nothing. Both types of vision perform poorly.
This is a huge problem for Sunday School and the church. When we don’t pay attention when driving, wrecks happened. When we don’t pay attention in a relationship, distance creeps in. But in the Lord’s service, there can be eternal consequences.
People drop out and stop growing. No one shares Christ with lost people. Young believers are not discipled. Potential leaders are not recruited or mobilized. Goals are not set. Training is not provided. New classes are not started. No one extends care or invitations. The Sunday School and church grows weaker and has less impact on the community and world. Ouch!
How to Fix It
When vision is missing or distracted long enough, it takes real focus and hard work to fight the bad habits that have been entrenched. But our Lord does miracles. Lives change. Revival, confession, and recommitment are possible.
There are some key steps in re-establishing focused vision. Consider the following:
- Pray and do Bible study. Have a conversation with God. Open the Word and listen. Respond to Him in prayer and obedience. Focus on the relationship and on His mission.
- Evaluate and confess. Honestly evaluate your Sunday School work AND your personal relationship with God. What is working well? What needs to change? Confess your sin and ask for His help.
- Prioritize and focus. This step is useless without the first two. Without the first two steps, you will fix and focus on the wrong things. But you cannot do it all at the same time. Prioritize on what is most important now, and focus yourself and others right there. Work on it until new good habits develop. Then work on the next most important item.
If these steps are as ineffective as many long-range plans, you will fail due to poor execution. A great plan needs ownership, assignment, deadlines, and accountability. So after prioritizing and focusing, do the hard work of execution. Consider the steps needed to accomplish the priority. Who owns that work? Assign it. Give deadlines for each step. Set regular planning meetings for reports of progress. Adjust plans when necessary.
Regularly re-dream the dream. Paint the picture. Revisit the mission. Help those with whom you serve avoid distraction. Vision matters. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!