In Part 1, I said that no Sunday School is immune from Sunday School challenges, hurdles, obstacles, opportunities, or problems. But after years of doing Sunday School work, I am convinced that when you and your Sunday School team work together with God there are no problems that are insurmountable!
In Part 1, I mentioned an article by Julia Shiply entitled 10 Problems Every Sunday School Faces. According to Shipley, “A recent survey gave insight into the problems that face the local Sunday school.” In Part 1 and Part 2, I shared the first six problems from her article: lack of good Sunday School literature and resources; lack of money; lack of space; lack of support; lack of concern; and lack of growth in all age groups. In Part 3, I will share her final four problems in all capitals followed by my commentary offering some possible solutions:
LACK OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH. This is frequently a sign that the church has ceased to reach out. Or it may be a sign that the average age of the congregation is graying. Few communities are devoid of children and youth. Many good suggestions were offered in the previous section about lack of growth in all age groups. Target one of these age groups for a quarter. Improve facilities. Add classes and workers. Set up monthly outreach events to pursue prospects in these age groups. Offer transportation. Invite them to parties.
SHORTAGE OF TEACHERS AND WORKERS. There is no quick fix for this problem. The issue is that you want “God-called” teachers and workers rather than “warm bodies.” Before enlisting workers, begin in a season of prayer. Start early. Enlist in person. Share job descriptions. Allow time for a prayerful response (usually no more than a week). The long term solution is to ask every teacher and worker to be apprenticing another leader. Give them suggestions about how to do that. It may even increase the effectiveness of your current workers. Offer potential teacher/leader training. Set up ongoing training events (see training section below). Raise expectations. Work with teachers/workers to develop a worker covenant. Ask teachers to suggest potential teachers. Observe VBS workers.
LACK OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH. Shipley hit the nail on the head: “Growth in attendance and spiritual growth very often go side by side. If the members of the Sunday school are growing spiritually they will be excited and happy to invite their friends.” Even enlistment of teachers and workers will be easier. Lead them to obey Christ’s commands (Matthew 28:19-20). Check on commitments made at the end of one lesson at the beginning of the next. Challenge them to practice a daily quiet time and spiritual disciplines. Help them to examine priorities and Kingdom use of the precious commodity of time.
LACK OF TRAINING OF SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS AND WORKERS. Bored workers are more likely to drop out of service. Challenge them. Affirm them. Train them. Raise expectations. Be creative. Offer variety of delivery. Be flexible in schedule. Customize the training to meet specific needs. Don’t forget other workers besides teachers.
Look back over Part 1 and Part 2. Take a step back to give some perspective to the problems. Which of these are the biggest ones your Sunday School faces? How can you turn them from problems to challenges and from challenges to opportunities? On which one do you need to start work first? You (plural) + God = more than enough to conquer it! Trust Him. Trust each other. Pray. Work together. Be revolutionary!