Last week, Ross Ramsey from LifeWay Christian Resources asked me what my “take away” was from my recent Sunday School survey research. I shared two responses:
- There is no single magic pill for Sunday School growth. There are several essential growth actions which should not be ignored.
- Because of number one, leadership is vital. The leadership of the pastor, director, and teachers is necessary to keep a Sunday School performing at a high level and to give focus to areas needing work.
The issue in this post is one that demands leadership. This post follows up my blog series where I shared results from that Sunday School survey. In fact, this post is the third in a series addressing the survey statements that showed significant variance between growing and declining Sunday Schools. This post addresses the third statement shared in Further Reflections on Sunday School Survey Results:
Sunday School teachers and workers are involved in an annual goal-setting, evaluation, and planning meeting each Sunday School year. (Never, Occasionally, Nearly every year)
So much more can be accomplished in Sunday School when we work together. We can encourage and help one another. We can remind each other about important actions and goals. We can share resources, projects, and fellowship activities. And this is greatly aided when we share time together in a planning retreat.
A planning retreat can be a great time for your Sunday School leadership team to get to know each other. It can help to build teamwork and ownership of Sunday School plans. A retreat close to the beginning of a Sunday School year helps your team evaluate progress and effectiveness. Your team identifies areas of need while agreeing on priorities by importance and timeliness. Then the team sets goals and makes plans for achieving those goals. The plans have deadlines, measurements, and assignments to individuals.
Pastors and directors seek lots of input in these retreats. This is true for at least three reasons:
- to make the experience much more enjoyable,
- to gain the most from the collective experience and creativity of the group, and
- to aid in ownership of the plans.
All good retreats conclude by establishing a schedule for regular reports of progress throughout the year (such as monthly update meetings). These meetings encourage focus and hard work and allow time for adjustments to be made in the plans. To fail to follow up the retreat with regular update times is to allow plans to fizzle and fail. Leadership is essential in this process. Improvement and growth seldom happen by accident. Pray. Retreat. Be revolutionary!