You really want this to be a great year for Sunday School in your church. Then, why not start it with a bang? Launch the year with a special time of focus and celebration. Plan some special events. Call the church and leadership to prayer. Launch it with energy, enthusiasm, and purposeful activity.
- SELECT A THEME. The LifeWay website offers a good article entitled How to Effectively Kickoff a New Sunday School Year. The first point is a good one: select a theme. Make it more than words. An image adds much. Choose a theme that can capture the imagination and fan the flames of enthusiasm for Sunday School for the coming year. The LifeWay article suggests placing the theme around the facilities a couple of months prior to the new year, but a theme can be helpful whenever you are able to develop and promote it. In addition to posters, banners, etc. around the facilities, make sure you use the image and theme in the bulletin, newsletter, letters, etc. during and following launch month.
- CLEAN THE ROOMS. Set up a time during the week before the new year for teachers and class leadership teams to clean up the rooms. Ask them to take down old posters and remove old curriculum. Ask them to remove damaged chairs and equipment. Dust and clean the room (even if the custodians do a great job normally). Wash the windows and doors. Clean the board. Make sure markers (or chalk) and an eraser are available. Make sure new curriculum is available. Secure a supply of name tags. (Might even, with permission, paint the room if it is needed.) It says a lot about the impression we want to give about God, the church, the class, and the Sunday School year when we make sure the classroom looks great.
- SET UP TRAINING. Offer a time of teacher and worker training. Join an associational or state Sunday School training event like Super Saturday. Plan a time of training in your church. Invite a sister church. Offer training in the two or three greatest areas of need. Give leaders a chapter or book to read and gather them together to debrief it. Promote goals. Affirm your leaders. Encourage them. Challenge them. Offer childcare and food. Do the event with excellence.
- COMMISSION SUNDAY SCHOOL LEADERS. You might combine the training time with a commissioning time. See Hemphill and Taylor’s book Ten Best Practices for a commissioning service outline and ideas. Also, check out A Commissioning Service for Sunday School Workers. Add a drama. Add responsive reading. Choose appropriate music. Without a doubt, praying for your Sunday School leaders is a key to a great year and a great launch. I was a part of a training and commissioning event at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington last night. You might contact David Bourne there for some of the ideas he used.
- PRAY FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL. Set up cottage prayer meetings: prayer meetings in homes for each adult and youth class. Have refreshments. Have fun. But most of all, pray for Sunday School. Pray for the new year. Pray for guests and prospects. Pray for teachers and leaders. Pray for new leaders and more leaders. Pray for lives to be changed, for disciples to grow, and for people to accept Jesus. Pray for new classes. Pray for God’s leadership and blessings.
- PLAN AN INREACH AND OUTREACH BLITZ. Plan a month of intensive reaching. One week reach out to members and absentees. Visit them. Pray with them. Invite them to Sunday School. Offer to pick them up. Invite them to a class fellowship. The next week reach out to prospects. Gather a list of Sunday School and worship prospects and visit them. Don’t be afraid to visit for a few brief minutes on the front porch. Likewise, pray, invite, and offer to pick them up. Then repeat the steps. And don’t stop contacting them throughout the year!
These are but a few of hundreds of ways to launch the new year with excitement and energy. Without a good launch, expectation and results may not be as high. It is not too late to do this–even if you couldn’t get it planned until September. Make a splash. Launch with a bang. Raise expectations. Seek God’s leadership. Be revolutionary!