Over the years, I have been contacted by pastors who wanted to start a Sunday School or to restart a Sunday School that had stopped meeting years before. In reality, seeing the need to start a Sunday School is an important step. What are other important steps which should be taken? Consider the following first five steps:
- PRAYER FOR GOD’S LEADERSHIP AND BLESSING. You will not have to ask God if He wants you to reach and disciple people. In His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), He has already commanded us to do so. Sunday School is just a great tool for being able to reach, teach, assimilate, and mobilize God’s people. Seek His heart. Seek His leadership. Ask Him to prepare your heart and the hearts of potential teachers and workers. Ask Him to prepare people to say yes to invitations to attend Sunday School. Ask God to provide the right leadership/planning team.
- ENLIST A CORE LEADERSHIP/PLANNING TEAM. Pray. Seek God-called leaders–this is vital! Enlist a Sunday School director. Pray together with your director about others you will seek. Ask your director to enlist these potential leaders with you or on his/her own. There are many possibilities of ways the team may be organized. These could initially include the pastor, director, and one person for each age group: adult, youth, children, and preschool. Or the director may serve as the adult representative and could enlist a youth Sunday School leader and a preschool/children’s combined leader. Or individuals/teams could be enlisted to complete tasks, such as organization/vision, worker enlistment/training, space/equipment, and communication/invitation/launch.
- SET A TARGET DATE. Choose a date wisely. If you start in the spring, summer may cause a slump in attendance, discouragement, and loss of momentum. Late August to early October is probably the best time to launch a Sunday School. Make sure you allow enough time to prepare well. Don’t rush this step. In most cases, proper preparation will take months. Unless you and leaders have been praying and talking about doing this for months already, it could easily take six months to launch well.
- CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITIES. In Arthur Flakes’ formula for Sunday School Growth, “know the possibilities” was the first step (for more information, read David Francis’ free downloadable book, The 5-Step Formula for Sunday School Growth). Look around the church and community. Who is there? What is the ministry area of the church? If Sunday School leaders to a great job of enlisting people in the community, who are they most likely to reach?
- ENLIST AND TRAIN WORKERS. Flake’s second step was to “enlarge the organization.” In the case of starting a Sunday School, consider the possibilities by asking what classes/age groupings are needed. What organization is needed for Sunday School to be successful? How many teachers and workers are needed? How much training is needed, and when and how can it be done (check out Creative Ways to Train Sunday School Teachers)? Pastor and Sunday School director should serve as coaches for those teachers and workers to troubleshoot, encourage, and keep these leaders on task. Develop expectations, job descriptions, and/or worker covenants for workers (check out Benefits of a Covenant for a Revolutionary Sunday School Class and Job Descriptions Are Necessary in Revolutionary Sunday School. Set up regular teacher/worker meetings in advance of and following the launch.
In Part 2, we will look at five more steps to successfully launching a Sunday School: (1) plan and prepare; (2) communicate, communicate, communicate; (3) invite; (4) launch; and (5) evaluate/adjust. Two additional resources you may want to review are Starting Sunday School Missions by Dennis Hampton of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists and How Do I Start Building an Effective Sunday School? If you do not currently have a Sunday School, I want to encourage you to being praying about the possibility. Be revolutionary!