In Part 1, I began by sharing that maintaining health requires both response to illness and pain as well as prevention. I listed several ways we avoid illness and pain: taking our own temperature, blood pressure, and blood sugar and administering medicine for a cough, runny nose, dry eyes, upset stomach, dry scalp, and athlete’s feet. I also mentioned preventative actions: eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising, washing hands during cold season and before preparing food, taking flu shots, bundling up in winter, and avoid getting sunburn.
Then I focused on the fact that a thriving, growing Sunday School also requires both response to sickness as well as prevention. Dr. Chuck Lawless, Dean of the School of Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Seminary, wrote a great article entitled Questions to Diagnose Your Church’s Health. In the article, Lawless offers eight great questions which can be applied to the Sunday School to help you to conduct your own Sunday School health assessment.
In Part 1, I shared the first four of his eight questions: Is the Sunday School’s teaching based on the Bible? Is the Sunday School a praying Sunday School? Is the Sunday School driven by a Great Commission focus? Is the Sunday School reaching nonbelievers? In Part 2, I will share his final four questions in all capitals (with “Sunday School” substituted for “church”) followed by my commentary:
- IS THE SUNDAY SCHOOL KEEPING NEW BELIEVERS WHO JOIN? Why would God entrust you with more of His sheep to care for if you are not faithfully caring for the sheep He has already sent to you? Those who drop out of church tend to stop growing as disciples and stop serving Him. With the addition of new believers, your attendance should be increasing. If not, why not? Lawless asked several questions here that should be considered about whether the congregation has aging members who died, sent out a group to start a mission, or is just doing a poor job of holding onto new or longer-term members.
- IS THE SUNDAY SCHOOL BOTH LOCALLY AND GLOBALLY MINDED? Lawless said, “At the risk of understatement, the world is always bigger than any local church.” Are the eyes of your Sunday School focused on self or on the needs of the community, region, and world? Do your classes have no vision and mission or big ones? Have you helped them to see beyond the walls? How can you lead them to touch lives beyond the classroom walls? Are they doing mission, outreach, and evangelism projects at least quarterly?
- DOES THE SUNDAY SCHOOL HAVE A STRATEGIC PLAN FOR FUTURE GROWTH? Lawless said, “One reason the devil readily succeeds in attacking churches is because he is often a better planner (Eph. 6:11) than most church leaders.” Ouch! Plans require evaluation (check out Evaluate the Past Year Before You Set New Sunday School Goals), needs identification, prioritization, goal-setting, and action planning. Plans require leadership. Plan a retreat (check out Giving Sunday School Direction Through a Planning Retreat). They demand God’s leadership! This takes time and prayer. Caring for more sheep requires more shepherds and more sheep pens. Training is needed. Money must be set aside. Curriculum must be ordered. Finally, consider Lawless’s question, “What would the church do if God sent a genuine awakening?”
- ARE LEADERS COMMITTED TO THE MINISTRY OF THE SUNDAY SCHOOL? When leadership is constantly changing, vision and direction changes too often for progress. Trust demands tenure. Leadership demands trust. Growth means working through difficulties and around challenges. Are key leaders verbally and physically supportive of the Sunday School? Is Sunday School a part of the church’s strategy? Work to appreciate and affirm your leadership. Pursue challenges together!
How is your Sunday School doing? Is your Sunday School sick in one of these areas or in need of some preventative steps? Take action now to correct any problems preventing your Sunday School from experiencing full health! Check out Part 1 for the previous four assessment questions. Prayerfully check your Sunday School’s health. Be revolutionary!