A few years back, I received training in how to do Natural Church Development consultations with churches. I appreciated the following about the research and NCD instrument:
the instrument measured eight areas of a healthy church:
it compared those eight areas to slats in a wooden bucket: whichever one of the eight slats is lowest is where water runs out (where attendance is lost); and
the research recognized that working on weaknesses can lead to neglecting the strengths; thus, the researcher recommended using the church’s strengths to address the weaknesses.
In a similar way, I believe Sunday School leaders need to stop regularly to evaluate progress. They need honestly to identify needs, problems, strengths, opportunities, and dreams. But in my experience many identify problems, but they stop there. No. No. No. That’s not enough. Even identifying ways to fix the problems may not be enough.
I want to recommend a better way. Start by identifying the strengths of your Sunday School. What are you doing well? What do your people enjoy doing? About what do they have a passion? What would people in your community say about your Sunday School? What do your people like to talk about doing? I believe every Sunday School has at least one thing they do well. I believe every Sunday School has at least one strength.
What if you used that strengths to address your weaknesses? What are your weakness? What part(s) of effective Sunday School work is/are absent or nearly so? What is keeping you from realizing more guests and members in attendance? Is it outreach, care, prayer, or you name it? How could you use your strength to address your weakness? How could you capture and release your people’s passion for your Sunday School’s strengths in addressing your weaknesses?
It can be done. I can think of lots of ways, but let me share one illustration. What if your strength was great parties, great fellowships? And what if your weakness was outreach, inviting guests? How could you use your strength of parties to address your weakness in outreach? What if you began to invite guests every time you planned a fellowship? What if you began to invite guests to your home for a meal? What if you sent out invitations and made phone calls? What if every time a guest visited you invited them to your party? What if every time a guest came to worship, you invited them to your fun events and projects? Would that begin to address your weakness? Do you think this action would begin to result in more people in Sunday School? You would be using your passion for parties to address your weakness.
So lead your Sunday School leaders and members to pray and think about your strengths, what you do well, and for what you have a passion. Then identify your weakness(es). Then spend some time brainstorming how to use your strength(s) to address your weakness(es). Do it quickly! Fix the place where water (people) are flowing out of your Sunday School’s ministry. Be revolutionary!