Your class has been together for more than two years. You enjoy being together, but the class seems stuck. No new people have joined and few have visited class in a while. Everyone seems busy. No one new is stepping forward to help with leadership or class activities. What can you do?
How about a Sunday School class growth retreat? Find a time when everyone (or as many as possible) can gather. Set aside 4-6 hours, so this might be a Saturday, Sunday afternoon, or a couple of weeknights. I recommend you meet somewhere other than the church (or where your class usually meets).
- PREPARATION. At least a week in advance, assign scripture passages to read and answer these questions: What did God say? and What does that mean for Sunday School? Ask them to pray for the retreat, each other, and what God wants to do through the retreat.
- AGENDA. 1) Start in a time of prayer. Then go through the assigned scripture passages. Get everyone involved. Write points out where everyone can see them. Lead the group to answer this question: Where does God want us to be as a class twelve months from now? 20 Evaluate class efforts during the last year. Begin by affirming the strengths and successes. Then move to areas needing improvement or additional work. 3) Drawing from where God wants the class to be AND from areas needing work, what needs attention in the year ahead? 4) Determine the priorities. Narrow the list from #3 to the top ten writing them on the board or large sheet. Then have each class member draw a star by the top five on the poster. Count the stars. These determine the top five on which you will begin work. Order those five in order of priority by stars or by which should be completed first. 5) Then set an overall SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time deadline) goal for each of the top 3 needs identified in #4. This will take time, so don’t rush it. Think God-sized goals. 6) Then consider the action steps you will need to take to accomplish the goals you set. Write them down with deadlines and person assigned. 7) Close by determining when you will meet to check on progress. Then pray for God’s blessing and help.
- KEY ELEMENTS. 1) Make sure to include everyone. Include them in discussion and in giving assignments (part of the agenda). 2) Work toward consensus–don’t vote on anything. Keep discussing until everyone agrees or agrees to be supportive. 3) Keep things positive, affirming, and expectant. 4) Keep the agenda moving. 5) Take breaks at strategic times. Don’t go too long, but avoid interrupting great thinking and discussion. 6) Have fun!
- RESULTS. Ultimately the desire is a better relationship with God and each other along with accomplishment of Kingdom work. Along the way, the class will feel ownership of the agenda and work necessary to accomplish the plans and goals. They will be committed to progress, working together, and a common vision.
- FOLLOW UP NECESSARY. For the class retreat not to have been a waste of time, it is important to gather to examine your progress and adjust the plans on a regular basis. Assignments and deadlines need checking. Celebration and encouragement are needed.
So when will you schedule your class retreat? The ideal time is the beginning of the Sunday School year, but why wait. Do it now. Lots can be accomplished together. Much work is needed. Many people need to be reached. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!
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