Sunday Schools and churches are experiencing two crises that are crippling Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) accomplishment. I invite you to read Jesus’ words in John 10:12-13 (ESV) to see what Jesus has to say about these crises:
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Assess your Sunday School and church for these crises:
- Leadership Crisis. There is a shortage of people willing to serve in Sunday School and church leadership: teachers, class leaders, deacons, committee members, ministry workers. and others. Potential leaders decline on the basis of time, lack of experience/fit, and lack of interest. Churches (and Sunday Schools) lack a leadership development process or strategy. Without leaders, less ministry is able to be done. Less training is offered. Classes are combined. Teachers have to assume leadership for all Sunday School work. As a result, less discipleship, growth, and impact occurs.
- Caring Crisis. There is a span of care limit of about five persons per leader. As a result of fewer leaders, Sunday Schools and churches are only able to care for fewer people. A teacher tries to care for ten people alone but focusing on teaching, reaching out, and member care is overwhelming. The teacher has a busy week and forgets to plan the fellowship, neglects to call the prospect, and does not make the phone call to the member. As a result, class attendance declines. Individual needs are neglected. People drop out.
Immediate response to these crises is critical. If ignored, these crises will be even more difficult to turn around. What can Sunday School leaders do to help the church and Sunday School to work though and beyond these crises?
The simple answer is multiply. Prayerfully enlist leaders the right way. Apprentice and train them. Mobilize them into service. When Sunday School trains leaders, the span of care is improved. More leaders mean more care is provide for more people. And when Sunday School provides a safe place for potential leaders to learn to lead, Sunday School becomes a training strategy for leadership development for leaders needed by the church for other responsibilities.
When adult Sunday School classes have apprentice teachers, outreach leaders, and member care leaders, the class grows. And these leaders often become great leaders for new classes. And the span of care is multiplied yet again. New classes often grow to 10 in enrollment and 20 in attendance in 12-18 months. Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research says around 3 people in a new class will be lost. And most of the lost in our classes will accept Jesus as Savior within twelve months. When new classes are added, attendance, baptisms, and giving usually increases in the church.
How can you deal with these crises and get the ball rolling toward multiplication?
1. Get on your knees and seek God. Confess what needs to be confessed. Seek His leadership and help.
2. Enlist a Sunday School multiplication team to evaluate, plan, and carry out this work.
3. Request MULTIPLY training for your team.
In the meantime, make disciples. Be revolutionary!