In Part 1, I said that no Sunday School is immune from Sunday School challenges, hurdles, obstacles, opportunities, or problems. What you call them may say more about how you feel about them. After years of doing Sunday School work, I am convinced that when you and your Sunday School team work together with God there are no problems that are insurmountable!
In Part 1, I talked about an article by Julia Shipley entitled 10 Problems Every Sunday School Faces. According to Shipley, “A recent survey gave insight into the problems that face the local Sunday school.” I will share the problems from Shipley’s article in three parts. In Part 1, I will shared the first three problems from her article: lack of good Sunday School literature and resources; lack of money; and lack of space. In Part 2, I will share her second three problems in all capitals followed by my commentary offering some possible solutions:
- LACK OF SUPPORT. In Kentucky Baptist churches, Sunday School attendance is about 2/3 of worship attendance. Some have more in Sunday School and some have less. But when there is a lack of support by the pastor, staff, and/or church leaders, Sunday School attendance becomes an increasingly smaller percentage of the worship crowd. What happens when the pastor is a strong supporter of Sunday School? What happens when he regularly lifts up the value of Sunday School and invites people? What happens when he attends or teaches a class regularly and talks about the benefits he receives from it? When Sunday School is valued by pastors, staff, and church leaders, attendance tends to increase. New classes are easier to start and grow. I like something Shipley said, “The best way to help others become more supportive is to get them involved.” Ask for their help. Brag on them.
- LACK OF CONCERN. This is probably even more subtle than lack of support. Work to discern reason for lack of support. Why are more people not involved in Sunday School? Do they not understand the value? Then tell them? Add pulpit promotion of Sunday School (see link above). Regularly share Sunday School testimonies. Do they not have leadership to be involved? Then ask the pastor to lead them to be involved. Ask the pastor to preach a series of sermons about the value of small group Bible study. Set up a table in the foyer of the sanctuary to sign people up. Make enrollment in Sunday School easy. Add it to the prayer and decision card in worship (and invite people to join Sunday School by using the card). A good equation for addressing lack of concern is often the following: information + inspiration + invitation = motivation to attend.
- LACK OF GROWTH IN ALL AGE GROUPS. This can be a vicious cycle. If you are not growing in adults, you probably are not going to grow in preschoolers, children, and youth. If your preschool facilities, teachers, and classes are not attractive, you probably will slow or stop growing in preschool as well as in younger, middle, and even senior adults. (Yes, even senior adults! You see, 20% of preschoolers today are being cared for by their grandparents.) What can you do? Emphasize an age group. Focus prayer and invitation efforts on that age group for a quarter. Then change the age group. Spruce up facilities. Add teachers. Add classes. If you are not growing in middle adults, add another middle adult class even if the current one has room. New classes tend to grow faster. Make sure classes have room to grow. If they don’t have room, move them to larger space or start another class. Set goals for contacts, enrollment, and attendance. Begin a contact and visitation program like G.R.O.W.: Outreach Teams That Win. One of the biggest ways to address lack of growth is to teach your people to invite friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors. Invitations work!
In Part 3, we will look at Shipley’s final four problems: lack of children and youth; shortage of teachers and workers; lack of spiritual growth; and lack of training of Sunday School teachers and workers. Take a step back to give some perspective to the problems. Which of these is the biggest one your Sunday School faces? How can you turn it from a problem to a challenge and from a challenge to opportunity? You (plural) + God = more than enough to conquer it! Trust Him. Trust each other. Pray. Work together. Be revolutionary!