When is the right time to start new classes? The answer is “when they are needed and leaders are ready.” What can we do to prepare for starting new classes? What can we do to discern whether a new class is needed? How can we get a new leader ready?
In Part 1, I mentioned that I recently read an article entitled How to Start New Adult Sunday School Classes. In the article, nine actions starting with the letter, “E,” are shared as “foundational building blocks on which new adult classes can be started.” The web article content came from a brochure prepared by Ron Pratt of the Baptist Sunday School Board, now called LifeWay Christian Resources. I want to share the nine actions in a three-part series. In Part 1, I shared Pratt’s first three actions. In Part 2, I will share the middle three actions in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- EDUCATE: TO PROVIDE WITH KNOWLEDGE OR TRAINING; TO TEACH OR INSTRUCT A PERSON OR GROUP. Training is essential for Sunday School and new classes to grow effectively. Teachers, Sunday School directors, pastor/staff, and workers all need to understand the basics and the important of addressing balance. This means addressing teaching/learning, ministry, fellowship, evangelism, and even worship. This means dealing with class organization and administration. Every teacher should be helped to understand how to pray for, select, train, and release an apprentice. From the beginning, new classes need leaders who think multiplication. I like Pratt’s reminder, “They also should know about barriers that might impede their progress.” Educate!
- ENLARGE: TO BECOME LARGER; TO GROW. If a potted plant is in a pot that is too small, it will remain small. Obviously one of the pots for the Sunday School is space. Move classes to spaces which allow for growth. Also, place new classes in spaces that will not intimidate because they are too large. Anticipate needs. Watch what is happening in all spaces throughout the Sunday School. Remember the 80% rule: if a space is filled to 80% of capacity, then it will be uncomfortable to grow beyond that point–which will likely lead to growth slowing or stopping. When you can project that spaces within a church facility are going to be filled, you need to have alternative plans in place. Could you use spaces used for other purposes: offices, library, fellowship hall, sanctuary, choir room, etc.? Could you move to nearby space: home, business, portable buildings, etc.? Could you offer Sunday School more than once on Sunday morning: before and after worship; worship/Sunday School followed by worship/Sunday School; or Sunday School followed by worship/Sunday School followed by worship; etc.? Could you offer classes at another time than Sunday morning? Enlarge!
- ENLIST: TO ENGAGE THE ASSISTANCE OR COOPERATION OF; TO PARTICIPATE ACTIVELY IN SOME CAUSE OR ENTERPRISE. A second pot for Sunday School that can restrict growth is your organization (number of classes and workers). You need to enlist additional workers for the organization to be prepared to grow. This is true of the Sunday School as a whole, but it is also true for individual classes. Enlist God-called workers. Enlist them in person. Give them a job description. Help them to see how the responsibility helps to carry out important work. Ask them to pray. Promise training, resources, and support for their role. Help them to understand when planning meetings and training will take place. Try to help all classes begin with more than just a teacher! Doing so will increase the likelihood of success. Enlist!
In Part 3, we will look at Pratt’s final three actions for starting new adult classes: encourage, embark, and evaluate. What training do you need? What training needs to be offered? Who do you need to apprentice? What space issues need attention? What options do you have? Where will you start the next class? Who needs to be added to your plans in order for growth to happen more naturally? Who can you pray for and enlist? Educate. Enlarge. Enlist. Start new classes. Be revolutionary!