I have heard hundreds of pastors, directors, and others tell me that they don’t know what to do about Sunday School. Some had just begun to serve in their current role. Others had been serving for some time without seeing the results they desired. Some were ready to throw in the towel, to quit. They were either ready to step down from responsibility or to give up on the Sunday School. Frequently they are giving Sunday School one last shot by asking for help, or they are looking for a “magic pill” that will fix everything.
Even if a “magic pill” existed, I am not sure that it would be the preferred way. There is something about turning to God and working together in the midst of great need that accomplishes much for our personal and corporate growth. On the other hand, I do believe there are steps that can be taken which can lead a concerned group of Sunday School leaders to take steps toward Sunday School progress. Consider these planning five steps:
- SEEKING GOD AND HIS LEADERSHIP. Frequently, the problem has more to do with our lack of relationship with Him than anything. We are trying to accomplish Sunday School growth and ministry in our strength and ideas. We are in conflict with each other. We no longer pray or seek to meet Him in Bible study. We are not faithful with what He has entrusted us. We have ceased asking for His forgiveness or others. How can there be Sunday School growth and progress if we are not seeking His face and turning from our wicked ways (2 Chronicles 6:14)?
- HONEST EVALUATION. Sometimes we are unwilling to see or tell the truth. We avoid recognizing or dealing with problems. We allow teachers to serve who are living in obvious sin. We are inward focused. We run from one fire to the next and have no time to stop the cause of the fires. We don’t see the limiting factors. We see aisle traffic and believe we are growing when our attendance is declining. Honest evaluation means we affirm the positives and acknowledge the negatives. We consider the impact of those facts. It means identifying areas in need of attention. It also means recognizing God-given dreams and hopes which should be pursued.
- FOCUS. Faced with facts, we must assess where to begin, what to do first. That involves consideration of what is most important. Some things are sequential and must be done before other steps are taken. Sometimes quick success is essential in order to provide encouragement to discouraged leaders. Since everything cannot be done (or done well) at the same time, focus leads to identifying the top three needs or dreams on which work must start.
- SETTING GOALS AND MAKING PLANS. What goals need to be set in order to challenge your Sunday School to accomplish more of God’s will? What numerical, spiritual development, leadership, and organizational goals need to be set? What goals need to be set to pursue the dreams God has given you and to improve in areas of need? If those are your goals, what plans do you need to make to accomplish those goals? What steps do you need to take? Who should be given responsibility? What deadlines need to be set? What plans need to be calendared? Recognize God’s leadership and help along the way!
- ADJUSTING. After beginning work on plans to accomplish the goals set to lead you to address needs and dreams, stop to see where you are. How are you doing? Affirm progress. Make adjustments where needed in order to get back on course. Adjustments are natural, but reflection on the process is necessary and takes intentional time.
Does your Sunday School need some change? Are you concerned about the lack of growth or progress? Consider a planning retreat where these five steps are your agenda. Involve your Sunday School leadership. Don’t forget the first and most important step: seek God! Then evaluate, focus, set goals, make plans, and adjust. Grow. Be revolutionary!