What if there was a way to find out if your Sunday School was running a temperature? What is there was a way to diagnose the health or sickness of your Sunday School? While there is no simple method of examination of the health of the Sunday School, Chuck Lawless has offered some questions that are helpful.
In an article entitled Questions to Diagnose Your Church’s Health, Lawless offers eight questions which can also be applied to your Sunday School work. Examine your Sunday School by asking Lawless’ eight questions which are in all capitals followed by my commentary (church has been replaced by Sunday School):
- IS THE SUNDAY SCHOOL’S TEACHING BASED ON THE BIBLE? It is God who changes lives. When we open God’s Word in Bible study, He speaks. Sunday School’s teaching should be based not on a study of some author or even on a great curriculum, but specifically on God in His Word. What adjustments does your Sunday School need to make here?
- IS THE SUNDAY SCHOOL A PRAYING SUNDAY SCHOOL? Prayer is an act of submission, openness, relationship, and desire for leadership. Without prayer, Sunday School is ineffective and powerless. Prayer aligns Sunday School with God’s purposes and plan. What adjustments does your Sunday School need to make here?
- IS THE SUNDAY SCHOOL DRIVEN BY A GREAT COMMISSION FOCUS? What is your Sunday School trying to accomplish? What is it pursuing? How is it helping the church to make disciples of all nations? How is it reaching people and teaching them to obey what Jesus has commanded? What adjustments does your Sunday School need to make here?
- IS THE SUNDAY SCHOOL REACHING NON-BELIEVERS?Sunday School is more effective than worship alone in leading non-believers to faith in Jesus Christ. Revolutionary Sunday School classes have assignments of groups of people in the community to invite to homes, fellowship, worship, class, and Jesus. Every class should have a list of prospects they are praying for and pursuing. New classes often reach non-believers better than existing classes. What adjustments does your Sunday School need to make here?
- IS THE SUNDAY SCHOOL KEEPING THE NEW BELIEVERS WHO JOIN? We are poor shepherd-stewards as Sunday School leaders when we allow sheep to disconnect from our classes. Sunday School is one of the most effective means a church has for connecting with and retaining new believers. Thom Rainer, now president at LifeWay Christian Resources, did some research that discovered that only 13% of new members who don’t become active in Sunday School will still be in church in five years while 87% of new members who become active in Sunday School will still be there five years later. What adjustments does your Sunday School need to make here?
- IS THE SUNDAY SCHOOL BOTH LOCALLY AND GLOBALLY MINDED? Revolutionary Sunday School sees and responds to the needs of people outside the class in the community, state, country, and world. Adult and youth classes work to involve members in ministry and mission projects. They seek to have every attender involved in serving God and others. On which people groups are your Sunday School focused? What adjustments does your Sunday School need to make here?
- DOES THE SUNDAY SCHOOL HAVE A STRATEGIC PLAN FOR FUTURE GROWTH? In pursuit of the Great Commission, what specific priorities, goals, and action plans are in place? Where will the Sunday School be in a year, six months, next month? What is the vision of your Sunday School leadership? What are you praying and working to accomplish for God? How will you do so? What adjustments does your Sunday School need to make here?
- ARE THE LEADERS COMMITTED TO THE MINISTRY OF THE SUNDAY SCHOOL? Commitment and priority are keys to pursuit of a healthy, effective Sunday School. When Sunday School is sixth in the list of priorities on the time and energy of leaders, health will be is shorter supply. What are your leaders committed to? Are they committed to the vision? Are they committed to the goals? Are they committed to the investment of time and energy needed to accomplish what God is leading? Is there a steady turnover of leadership? What adjustments does your Sunday School need to make here?
Along with these eight areas of health assessment, I want to ask one more question: Is your Sunday School dealing with conflict? A Sunday School dealing with conflict will use much emotional energy and time on the conflict that are needed to be healthy. It is a little like a human body dealing with an infection. Identify and address conflict in your Sunday School. What adjustments does your Sunday School need to make here?
Take the temperature of your Sunday School. Rate your Sunday School in each of these nine areas (including conflict) on a scale of one (very sick) to eleven (very healthy). Add together these nine scores. If your total temperature is 80-100, your Sunday School is in fairly good health. If your total temperature is 50-79, your Sunday School is experiencing significant sickness and in need of some major help; work on your weakest area now. If your total temperature is below 50, your Sunday School is near death; take steps now to address your weakest area, and then work on the next one. Don’t be unhealthy! Be revolutionary!