I have been on many hikes in my life. The ones I remember began in my teen years as a Scout, including one of over 50 miles. But back in June my wife and I hiked the north rim of the Grand Canyon. (Here is the blog post I wrote back then: How Is Your Sunday School Like the Grand Canyon?.) We could ride free shuttle buses from stop to stop, but there was so much beauty to see that we only rode a bus two or three times (especially for the long trip back).
Anyway, as we would trek around the edge of the Grand Canyon sometimes we seemed to be making no progress. But after a while we would look back and be able to see our progress. We could see where we were staying and that we had gone quite a distance already. That day we walked nearly four miles and got a bit sunburned (we did not set out to walk). But the journey was worth it.
Many times on our Sunday School journey, we do not pause long enough to look back. We fail to set aside time to reflect over the journey of the past few weeks, months, or year. When we fail to look back and evaluate our progress, we can often head in the wrong direction. This is true for the Sunday School class teacher, the Sunday School director, as well as the pastor or any other Sunday School leader.
The end of a calendar year is always a great time to stop to evaluate–even if the time to pause cannot be scheduled for a few days or weeks. And it often helps to look back with others on the same journey. Gather class leaders and class members. If you are the director or pastor, gather the teachers and other leaders. Plan enough time to get lots of input and involvement. Help them “own” the reflection, evaluation, and decisions about moving forward.
Whether you are doing this for your class or for your Sunday School as a whole, consider some of these ideas for that time:
- pray together thanking God for His blessings and asking for His help in this time of reflection and the rest of the Sunday School year,
- share success stories,
- mourn any losses,
- laugh and cry together,
- look at goals and emphases that were set for the year,
- share statistics and events that were conducted,
- celebrate progress,
- evaluate honestly areas with little or not progress (avoid defensiveness),
- consider any adjustments needed to goals and plans,
- consider any needed resources or training in order to share even more success stories next time,
- commit to each other and to God that you will pursue plans with energy and intentionality,
- share when the next check up time will be,
- close in prayer.
What would you add to this suggested agenda? Make it fun. Make it celebratory. Focus on God and His work in your church and community. Stop. Look back. Move forward together. Be revolutionary!