Summer is in full swing and many church members are away on vacation, mission trips, and camps. However, now is time to get your Sunday School and Small Group ready for the fall season of ministry. For many churches, August/September is the beginning of a new year of ministry. Here are some thoughts to use the summer wisely to prepare for a great season of ministry this fall, plus create less stress among your church members and leaders.
Here are five suggestions to help you prepare for a great fall for your group:
1. Get some training
Consider partnering with your state convention or local association for training opportunities. Or consider training your leaders at your own church. Also, an excellent tool for local church training is using the online training that may be available through your state convention or LifeWay. Most online training that you will find through your state convention is targeted directly for Sunday School and small group leaders. In Oklahoma, our ReConnect Sunday School website has almost 200 training videos are available. As group leaders, we should always be improving our own skills as a leader so that we can better lead and minister to our group.
2. Spruce up your room
When you invite someone to your home for dinner, you are likely to do a little extra cleaning than normal. Use the same principle with your church building. So what does your Sunday School room look like? Could it use a fresh coat of paint? How clean are the floors? How about the furniture? What does the sign outside your room look like? And… how much out-of-date curriculum do you have piled up in a corner?
3. Enlist leaders to help you
You probably have a few leadership opportunities that need to be filled, plus some other important spots that need leaders. Begin the enlistment process as early as possible so that people do not feel pressured to take a leadership role at the last minute. Organize your group for ministry, fellowship, and outreach. Enlist someone to greet every person that walks into your room. Enlist one leader for every 5 people on your ministry roll. Delegate these leadership opportunities, because it is not your place to shoulder the all of the responsibilities of your group alone.
4. Start a new group (or two)
New groups provide room for new people. It is called the “Power of 10”, because every new group the church starts increases average attendance by about 10 people. Early fall is a great time to start a new group since many people view the new school year as a chance for a fresh start in a church as well.
5. Re-establish your group’s priorities
According to Hebrews 2:1, it is the natural state of humankind to “drift away”. Also, the longer people drift from the church’s primary mission, the more difficult it becomes to get them focused back on the church’s #1 priority, making disciples. Take the opportunity at every leadership meeting to re-visit the purpose and mission of your church’s small group strategy. A consistent reminder of the purpose of your church’s groups will help prevent mission-drift.
6. Contact everyone that is a member of your group (I know I said five, but this is a bonus idea)
As stated above, people tend to drift away over time. Life gets busy and things happen. But when it comes to church in general, and Sunday School/small group in particular; busy-ness or lifechanges can become personal fast. From my experience, I have discovered that if a group members misses six meetings in a row, it is very difficult to get them to come back to the group. So make an all-out effort this August to contact every member of your group (not just the attendees). The longer the group waits to reach out to absentees, the more difficult and awkward it becomes.
Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School/Small Group specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob also has his own blog at bobmayfield.com.
Twitter – @bobmayfield