The main targets for my writing in this blog are pastors, church Sunday School directors, adult Sunday School teachers/workers, small group ministry coordinators, and small group facilitators/leaders. In addition to those, there are many I hope benefit from what I have written. Some of those include class members, discipleship leaders, ministry coordinators, and associational leaders like the associational Sunday School director and the Director of Missions (DOM).
For some who may not know, the association for Baptist churches is a group of churches (usually in a defined geographical area within a state) who have chosen to cooperate around a common mission locally and beyond. Churches working together can often accomplish more than they could working separately. In the case of an associational Sunday School director, he or she will be a church leader who has been enlisted by an associational enlistment team to help the churches in the association to strengthen and grow in their Sunday School work.
What are the duties of an associational Sunday School director? While they will naturally be as diverse as the specific association and churches making up that association, there are some duties that should be highlighted. Consider the following:
- Age Group Team Enlistment. There are many advantages of the enlistment of an age group Sunday School team. Team members can include individuals who focus on preschool, children, youth, adult, outreach/evangelism, general leaders (pastors and Sunday School directors), and others. Some teams will also include the associational Vacation Bible School director and/or team. Team members will be enlisted upon recommendations of the DOM, pastors, Sunday School directors, and others.
- Planning Retreat. One advantage of a team is the ability to plan your work together. Gather them close to the beginning of the associational year (shortly after election of team new team members) to evaluate last year’s work and to plan strategy and events for the year.
- Training. It is important that the team discover training needs of Sunday School leaders in the churches. This may be through conversation, phone calls, or a survey. Out of that knowledge, training events can be planned to motivate and train leaders to take steps toward growth. Balance in the planning is important. Training will be needed in a variety of directions: teaching, reaching, caring, organizing, and more. If the team is responsible for planning training events for January Bible Study and/or Vacation Bible School, that will also be on the agenda. The team will need to determine timing and frequency of training. Location is also important. Is childcare needed? Will a meal be provided? Will it be potluck? Will books be provided? Will there be a cost? What is the best day for the most people to attend? How will we communicate the training event in order to get the most people to attend? Who should we enlist to help with the event in order to get even more people to attend? Training can be for one church or for the whole association. It can even be for one age group for a church or the association.
- Consultation. The team will likely divide the churches to focus on making contacts with the pastors and/or Sunday School directors (or age group leaders). These consultations will take place in person in a home, office, or a restaurant over coffee/coke. Some will take place over the phone. The associational team member will ask what is going well in Sunday School and where they need help. These successes can form stories to share with other churches, and the needs can form the agenda for future training or for help that is offered by the team. This consultation also begins a relationship between the church leaders and the associational team and recognition of them as a resource.
- Communication. How does the associational Sunday School director and his/her team communicate their availability? The short answer is that this should be done in as many ways as possible. Send a letter of introduction out to pastors and Sunday School directors. Send out an email blast. Make phone calls. Make visits church, home, work visits with pastors and directors. Ask for time on the associational executive board meeting agenda and annual associational meeting. Share a report/update.
- Motivation. Share about why effective Sunday School work is important. Help them understand the importance of enrollment, prospect lists, and contacts. Help them know why it is important to get lost people and new church members into Sunday School. Tell stories of successes from associational churches. Share a sermon outline about the importance of Sunday School. When promoting training events, don’t publicize only the fact that you are doing Sunday School training. Give it a theme and a purpose. Communicate why this direction of training is being shared. Help them understand the benefit they will receive from having attended the training. Help them understand what they will be able to do as a result of it.
- Budget Request. Effective associational Sunday School work requires some money. Budget for effective work. Make sure your budget plans include publicity and mailing, refreshments/meals, books, handouts, resources, speakers, and other items that reflect your plans from your planning retreat (or a budget planning session with your age group team and DOM.
- PRAY. The most important responsibility is this one: pray together as a team. Thank God for calling you to serve in this way at this time with these churches. Pray for God’s leadership. Acknowledge your dependence on Him and need for His help. Pray for the churches, pastors, directors, teachers, workers, and members. Pray for the work of the Sunday School. Pray for church plans for growth and excellence. Pray for associational Sunday School strategies and events. Pray for growth as team members and as a team. Pray for God to use you in the year that is ahead. Pray before planning, consulting, communicating, and training.
Are you an associational Sunday School director? If so, what would you add to this abbreviated explanation of responsibilities? Do you have an stories about why one of them is important or what happened through your work? Anything you share can be of encouragement and help to others in carrying out their work. May God-called people be enlisted to carry out this important work to build up our church leaders as they carry out the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations.”