For many reasons, it is important to get everyone involved in your Sunday School class. Persons who have important places of service are less likely to drop out and more likely to be fulfilled through the service. Also, it is important for us to utilize the gifts, experiences, personalities, passions, and abilities of the disciples God has entrusted into our care. In addition, individuals frequently find teams more fun to serve on than completing service as individuals.
There are many ways to organize your class into teams for effective Sunday School ministry and growth. One way was developed by Dan Garland (former Church Development & Evangelism Team Leader here) and John Mark Toby, pastor at Beacon Hill Baptist Church in Somerset. It is called FISH Team Training: Sunday School Evangelism Strategy. The letters in FISH stand for five teams: Fellowship, Intercession and Instruction, Service, and Hope. In a small class, each these five areas can be led by five individuals, but when the class reaches ten, teams are possible. Another option would be to combine two or more teams in the small class until more members are added.
Allow me to share their FISH strategy with a few additional personal suggestions in parentheses:
Fellowship Team: purpose to create an atmosphere of fellowship and openness to guests and members. Actions include: (1) coordinate periodic (I suggest monthly) class fellowships; (2) distribute name tags; (3) welcome guests (serve as class greeters); and (4) send birthday and anniversary cards.
Intercession Team: purpose to help the class discover and pray for needs of members and guests. Actions include: (1) develop class prayer chain; (2) gather prayer requests; (3) inform class of answered prayer requests and praises; and (4) encourage prayer testimonies and stories.
Instruction Team (Teacher and Apprentice): purpose to teach God’s Word (and help students meet God in Bible study) and develop a practical biblical understanding. Actions include: (1) prepare and teach weekly lessons; (2) encourage FISH team members (lead them to set team goals); (3) facilitate class discussion and interaction; (4) attend periodic teacher training; and (5) encourage daily quiet time.
Service Team: purpose to meet needs of members and prospects and discover community needs and develop ministries to meet those needs. Actions include: (1) send encouragement cards; (2) (lead care groups who) coordinate ministry actions; (3) call absentee members; and (4) plan periodic ministry projects (at least quarterly).
Hope Team: purpose to gather names from class of (prospects and) lost individuals and to train and lead in (reaching and) evangelistic visits. Actions include: (1) maintain “ten most wanted” list; (2) train class in sharing personal faith story (and Sunday School testimony); (3) follow up on new believers; and (4) coordinate guests (and prospect) contacts.
In their materials, they suggest setting aside one week each month to reinforce each of the four teams through an emphasis. This could be reporting time. This could be special announcements or training. In addition, they suggest allowing a few minutes (perhaps 5 minutes) on Sunday morning for each team to do its work. In my experience, if we don’t emphasize it on Sunday mo rning, we often won’t do it at all.
How could the FISH team strategy work in your Sunday School class or classes? What would happen if these teams started functioning? Would you be ready for the results God might send? Pray about how you might begin to organize your class or classes in teams. Be revolutionary!