In starting a new adult group, one could begin with as few as one or two leaders. Numerous classes have been started through the years with a willing teacher and a list of prospects. On the other end of the spectrum, some start classes with a much larger number of leaders and members. Wherever you are on the spectrum, do not miss the opportunity to add supporting leaders as you grow.
Arthur Flake in his book, The True Functions of the Sunday School, speaks of the Sunday School as the employment agency of the church: “With proper executive leadership any Sunday school in any church can be so organized that a place of useful, joyous service may be made for every member of the church (42).” Flake even responds to those who say we should not rush people into a place of service; “It is false reasoning to say that they cannot serve until they have grown in Christian experience. Jesus used the twelve when they were yet immature (32-33).” Giving people an opportunity to discover and grow into the good work for which they have been created is not being “pushy” (Ephesians 2:10).
I co-authored a book with Dr. Lawrence Phipps, Growing Sunday School TEAMS, in which we demonstrated how to help people discover their place in the Body of Christ through “building Bible study groups in the church.” The invitation is for everyone to discover their place on one of the TEAMS. A modern picture of the Body of Christ is a team of people with a variety of gifts, talents, and abilities coming together to accomplish a mission. The five major positions are Teaching, Evangelism, Administration, Ministry, and Service. A variety of roles are available in each position to enable every member an opportunity to grow and serve. Each position should provide “entry-level tasks” so that new members can serve. I have posed the question to leaders, “If a non-believer began to attend your class, would there be an opportunity for that person to serve?” Watching people come to know Christ because they served in a mission project alongside believers who shared their faith is a true joy.
As you add supporting leaders, you are allowing people to take a “baby-step” toward a life-time of service in the Kingdom. These supporting leaders will have the opportunity to grow into the key leaders of the near future.
Arthur Flake said, “As it was in New Testament times, so it is today. In all our churches we have capable people of varied gifts and talents who, if enlisted and trained, will be able to do valiant service for Christ. Let us see how all these may be utilized in a practical way through service in our Sunday schools (34).”
Daniel Edmonds, State Missionary, Office of Sunday School & Discipleship, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.