On average, which would take more of your time: leading Sunday School to be effective or leading five separate programs to be effective? Most of us would say Sunday School. A few would say that it depends on the condition of Sunday School and the programs and those enlisted to help. That is fair.
Let me describe the programs. You will need to develop and lead effective programs for the following:
- assimilation (developing relationships, sticking together, and mobilizing gifts and service),
- discipleship (leading people to follow Jesus in becoming fishers of men)
- evangelism (praying for, caring for, inviting, and winning the lost and unreached),
- financial development (strengthening stewards who invest in His Kingdom), and
- leadership development (enlisting, training, and mobilizing leaders into service).
Wow, that is an important and huge list! Leading those five programs is essential to the health and effectiveness of the church. Leading those five programs to be effective, even with the right people enlisted would still require a fair amount of time and energy.
But wait a minute, are you saying that Sunday School can do everything on that list? Yes, and no. Without a significant investment of leadership, time, and energy, Sunday School will accomplish none of those well. But if you will invest in Sunday School, it can grow more and more effective in carrying out all five of these functions.
Allow me to explain one function at a time:
- Assimilation. When every class (preschool through adult) enlist someone to lead member care, assimilation can be done well. It is important for the church to encourage every member to be part of a Sunday School class. In preschool and children’s classes, one of the teachers is in charge or a parent or a caring leader has been enlisted. The work is to make contacts, plan fellowships, and encourage friendships. In adult and youth classes, every attender is asked to help with that work.
- Discipleship. Teachers meet God in Bible study and are changed. Out of that encounter, they plan lessons to lead attenders to open God’s Word and meet God in Bible study and obey Him. They create an encouraging environment where the class cheers each other toward obedience. Teachers invest in apprentices to help with teaching responsibilities.
- Evangelism. Every class enlists an outreach leader who leads the class to pray for, care for, invite, and share Jesus. Prospect care lists are created for every class. Lost and unreached people are invited to fellowships and projects. Members in youth and adult classes are trained and sent out to share their faith. Regular caring contacts (often weekly) are made.
- Financial Development. On average, the new people we reach in Sunday School will give similarly to those already in Sunday School–though there often is a lag in when they start giving. Example. If you reach 10 new Sunday School members, and Sunday School giving is $30 per person weekly, usually those 10 new people will give $300 extra each week. Usually starting one new class will grow to 10-12 in attendance and 20-25 in enrollment in 12-18 months.
- Leadership Development. When adult classes enlist member care leaders, apprentice teachers, and outreach leaders, they provide great service opportunities in a safe environment. They can learn new skills with few fatal consequences. Teachers need help since the span of care is about 1 leader to 5 members. To grow, more leadership help is needed. Enlisting these leaders improves the class effectiveness and span of care and at the same time prepares them for leadership in other places within the church.
Are you afraid your teachers and classes will be overwhelmed if you dump all this on them at the same time? Then don’t dump it all of them now. Gather them together for an evaluation and planning retreat. Help them see why all five functions are needed. Determine a priority order for adjustment and implementation. Work on implementing and improving one function every quarter or every six months. Even if it took two and a half years, think of the impact that could result! Monthly meetings to check on Sunday School progress would require significantly less time than even quarterly meetings for five programs. Invest now in leading your Sunday School. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!