I am thankful for Sharon Gary Smith sharing this blog. She is one of our SS Consultants with lots of experience!
Most pastors and staff begin to think about what they will need to do to improve their Sunday School program in the Spring of the year. Questions begin to emerge such as what can be done about the lack of space for expansion or how can the Sunday School classes be improved or the outreach and in-reach ministries either need to be improved or how do we begin a new outreach and in-reach ministry? Questions about the budget for Sunday School and how can it be increased and what types of training are needed to help the Sunday School leadership do the work more effectively? It can be overwhelming if one feels there are no resources available to find workable solutions to all the questions and needs a church may be facing.
The purpose of this brief article is to help pastors and Sunday School leaders to consider basic questions designed to assist them in making their organizations work effectively and to minister to the needs of those people who are involved in Sunday School and worship. As you read this article pick out those questions and recommendations that are needed to get the process started as you consider dual Sunday Schools and/or multiple worship services.
Around the spring season of last year a pastor made a call to a church consultant. The pastor was seeking help for his Sunday School and to discover what was needed to get the Sunday School organized for growth and ministry. He inquired if the consultant would come to his church to observe, to evaluate and to make recommendations that would allow the people and the church to move to the next growth level.
After a visit to the church the consultant discovered four major areas that may hinder further growth and ministry if not corrected and improved. They were:
* Inadequate parking not only for the present attendance but for the anticipated growth as well.
* The Sunday School needed to be reorganized to provide new space and to improve new ministries. ( teaching, in-reach, outreach, training, etc.). They were utilizing 95% the available space for the existing attendance.
* More space was needed for worship. Both worship hours were at 80% capacity of the existing space. At present, there was little room for adding new worshippers.
* To make guests and members feel more welcome and to offer information a Hospitality ministry needed to be established.
The church growth consultant offered some major recommendations. They were: (a.) To reorganize the Sunday School into two sessions with suggested hours to begin at 8:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. (b.) To offer three worship services that would begin at 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and at 11:00 a.m. A time line was recommended to begin both of these changes on the first Sunday in January, 2014. (c.) At the same time, while implementing the first two recommendations, a recommendation was submitted that the church pave, light and landscape the rest of the available land for parking improvement and expansion.
(d.) To develop a hospitality ministry that would include welcome greeters, parking greeters, transportation, sanctuary zone welcome hosts , ushers, a medical team and a security team.
During the nine months required for the church membership to prepare to begin they experienced new growth . The consultant contributed the growth and renewed spirit of the church to the focus on church wide prayer, their faith in the Lord’s guidance and provision and the entire church family’s commitment to the consultant’s recommendations for the plans to make changes and improvements. The attitude of the church could be summed up as to “Whatever it takes.”
It would take many pages to explain to you all that happened over the next nine months that made this church such a great success story. They point to the leading of the Lord and to the consistent planning, prayer and attention to detail that have been a positive contribution to their journey. They have increased significantly in attendance ,quality teaching, ministry, outreach and in-reach in the Sunday School and worship services. In addition to the factors mentioned earlier about the Lord’s provision and planning you may be asking the question of, how did they accomplish this? Listed below are brief overviews for the major activities the church was to do for each month.
March: Recommendations were to be presented to the church. The church prayed for the Lord’s guidance and His will and then moved to vote to accept them. They voted to start the new organization on Jan. 12 2014. The consultant developed a timeline that would assist the staff in the projects they should follow on a monthly bases. The staff accepted the guidelines and moved onward and upward.
April: The staff developed Job descriptions for all workers in the Sunday School and enlisted a Sunday School Director using the Job Description for that position.
May: Enlisted the Sunday School Leadership team using the job descriptions. This team consisted of the pastor, the Sunday School Director, a director from each age group, an Outreach Director, an In-reach director and a Secretary. In addition, a Hospitality Director was enlisted.
June: To schedule and have a Leadership Team Planning Retreat. The Leadership Team began enlisting Department Directors to be completed by July 30, 2013. The Hospitality Director enlisted a team leader for each ministry team.
July: The Hospitality and Sunday School Department Directors enlistment to be completed by this month. A choir enlistment plan should begin.
August: Hospitality Directors shall begin enlisting the team members and the Sunday School Department Directors shall begin enlistment of the teachers. A card was developed to allow families to choose what hour they would attend Sunday School and worship.
September: A letter shall be sent to all church members explaining the worship and Sunday School new programs. A card was included for the family to reenlist in Sunday School and commit to a Worship hour.
October: Teachers were sent their new class ministry lists. Teachers began enlisting their class leaders.
November: The new Sunday School organization is to be completed. A training school was held for all Sunday School Workers and Hospitality Teams. Teachers shall begin contacting all class members. Prospects are assigned to appropriate age group class and contacts are to begin.
December: Choir enlistment shall be completed. Contacts are to continue.
January: A commitment service shall be held for all workers . Setup/cleanup day and a prayer service for new organization shall be held. The commitment service shall include all leaders. Conduct Launch Sunday.
Each Month the Staff and Leadership worked the plan faithfully. As of February, 2014 they have begun 6 of the 10 additional classes they planned to start. The Outreach and in-reach plan is organized through the Sunday School and working well. One of the many blessings they have experienced is an increase in the Sunday School attendance. The church is experiencing the joy of seeing people making decisions to ask the Lord into their lives as Savior and Lord.
The Hospitality Team has become such an asset to the church. The team meets guests, encourages them, invites them to Sunday School and other church events and offers ministry in so many creative ways. The spirit of the church is exciting and expectant of what God is doing and will do.
With Careful planning this could be your story.
Sharon Gary Smith