It is the time of year when so many things kick off in the church: new teachers, new classes, new emphases, age group activities, and so much more. Summer vacations are winding down. School is right around the corner. And worship and Sunday School attendance is about to take a jump. There is a buzz in the hallways.
Now is the time to capitalize upon the additional conversation and excitement. Now is the time to take concrete steps to keep the additional attendance. Now is the time to set current and new leaders in motion to accomplish great things. Not to respond at this time would be wrong. Maintenance mode is not acceptable in revolutionary Sunday School. Sunday School growth is not an accident. God is at work and calls us to join Him.
In Part 1 of this series, I want to share the first four of nine actions required for Sunday School growth. Sunday School growth requires…
PRAYER. The church is not a business. We are the body of Christ. We are extensions of God into the world. Thus, the body must be about what God is about. We must care for those for whom Christ gave His life. In order for the Sunday School to do this, there must be intentional seeking in prayer. There must be communion with Him. This is more than asking Him to bless our plans. Instead, it is asking Him to help us understand His plans and how we can carry out His work. Gather your leaders and pray–not just at the beginning of meetings. Set aside concerted, special time for prayer. Give Sunday School teachers and leaders prayer agendas. Ask for prayer requests and praise reports related to Sunday School. Pray about people, classes, needs, prospects, new classes, dreams, goals, and more!
EVALUATION. What’s working well? What are the successes? Is the Sunday School system balanced (see Balancing the Sunday School Aquarium, Part 1)? Do you have enough teachers? Is more training needed in some areas? What needs attention and work? What gaps are present? What adjustments need to be made? Where are the struggles? What are the opportunities? What are the threats and problems? What do your numbers tell you–in each age group, each month, in each class? Where is there potential? Set aside time for evaluating. Seek to understand how you are under attack. Seek to understand what’s happening. This is essential in order to identify and address needs. For more thoughts, check out Evaluate the Past Year Before You Set New Sunday School Goals.
DREAMING. What dreams is God giving you? What does God want to do through you? What God-sized pictures is He painting? Where do you believe He wants you to be in a year? in 5 years? What will you look like at that time? How will you know you have been successful at accomplishing the dream He has given you? What will you have to do to accomplish that dream? What leaders will you have enlisted? What space will you have provided? What training will you have conducted? What hurdles will you have overcome? What resources will He have provided in order to accomplish His dream? Check out What Does a Win Look Like in Sunday School? and Set God-Sized Goals for Sunday School Growth.
PLANNING. In order to be obedient to what God has revealed to you in prayer, how will you bring it all about? How much planning is needed? Who needs to be involved? How frequently do you need to meet? Growth is possible. God expects it. Now how can you get everyone moving in the same direction? How can you help them to own a piece of the strategy? How can you lead them to break down the plans into bite-sized steps? How do you determine priorities? Where is the place to start? How can you ensure early success in order to encourage and motivate pursuit of subsequent steps? How do you need to build affirmation into the process?
How would you respond if your church were under attack? It should bring you together for a common purpose. Satan is attacking. Our communities are being attacked. Sunday School can make a difference. Unite and respond. Roll up your sleeves and get to work! Gather your Sunday School teachers and workers and get started. Look for the next five actions required for Sunday School growth in Part 2: goals, training, new classes, prospect follow up and events, and work. Don’t settle for less. Don’t be mediocre this year. Be revolutionary!