Archive for Organization

5 Ways to Get Your Sunday School Ready for Great Ministry This Fall

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 And… how much out-of-date curriculum do you have piled up in a corner?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

Instagram – @rpmayfield or @reconnectss

Using a Class Newsletter

newsletterWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? The list of ways to communicate are numerous.  The 21st Century has supplied us with numerous ways to communicate valuable  information to our group.  This information in many cases is quite important to our groups and also holds the key to make sure that people are taken care of through prayer & ministry.

This information communicated helps members know how they can minister and what they can do in their group to help others. This gives people in the group “buy-in” so they feel a part of the group and not just attend. Typically there are events or a “What is Going On” section.  You want to make sure the class stays active.

“WHAT DO I DO?” One of the easiest ways to start communicating and maybe the oldest is a Class or Group Newsletter.  A newsletter!!! Yes, people still use them and the are quite effective.

Newsletters can be mailed, handed out in class, or sent as a simple “E-Newsletter.”  You should include contact information for people to get in touch with leaders.

A group mission project should be at the forefront of most any Newsletter.  Prayer needs & some sort of upcoming events section always proves to be a good beginning.

People want to know that the group is “valuable” enough for them to be a part of it.  Add value to your group, start a newsletter and start communicating!

Prepare to Start Fresh This Year

 

FreshWhen does a fresh year of Sunday School and small groups begin. Many launch close to the start of the school year. That means that many launch on the first Sunday of September, second Sunday of September or a couple of weeks before September.
Others opt for a time earlier in the summer. Why earlier? The decision is often due to a desire to move (promote) teens or children into the next grade shortly after the school year ends. As a result, some launch a new year of groups on the first Sunday of June, July, or August.

No matter when your new year begins, there are some things that can be done to prepare for a great, fresh launch:

  • pray and seek God’s leadership and blessing;
  • enlist God-called leaders;
  • start new classes;
  • provide training for every teacher and leader;
  • commission every worker;
  • clean and straighten all classroom space;
  • restock and straighten the supply/resource closet;
  • paint/update classroom space;
  • prepare new classrooms;
  • replace worn equipment and furnishings;
  • organize to reach and care for people;
  • prepare good records;
  • make contacts with all members, absentees, and prospects;
  • plan new year fellowships;
  • communicate well with all workers;
  • plan outreach/ministry/service projects;
  • set goals for contacts, new members, attendance, and discipleship;
  • set aside time for a planning retreat;
  • and more.

Are you ready yet? What are you doing to prepare for the new year? Share it with by pressing Comments. Give God your best effort. Pray. Start well. Plan. Launch new leaders and classes. Reach and care for people. Make the new year fresh!

For more ideas about launching a fresh year, check out these posts:

Principles for Transformational Small Group Bible Study

This is article nine of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.

Principle Six: Examination

Let’s review some of the statements made during this series of blog articles:

  • Definitions: Learning is discovery. Teaching is facilitating discovery. A teacher is a coach to discovery.
  • The teacher’s task to set up experiences so the learner can discover for himself Bible truths that transform.
  • Transformational Philosophy: Where there is no involvement there is no learning.
  • Philosophy Question: How do we keep learners actively Involved as they examine the Scripture passages?

Involvement can be as simple as connecting learners in pairs for discussing an idea; connecting 3-5 learners in small teams for answering questions; asking teams to tell back and demonstrate the biblical truth they discovered in their assigned passage using a creative method. Methods might include: art, drama, music, verbal, paper/pencil, games. Usually, the procedures in the Leader Guide provide creative methods that can be used or adapted to meet the needs of learners. But, I’ve found that when procedures do not

fit my group, I use the following Methods Processthat involves learners:

  1. Divide group into learning teams of 3-5 learners each.
  2. Each team is given written assignments. These are decided in planning meeting. The statement I hear more than any is, My class won’t do any of this creative stuff. How can I get them to do it? ALWAYS give written assignments! This creates a sense of responsibility on the learner. Even senior adults respond to a written assignment. Then, gently hold the group accountable for doing the assignment by encouraging and coaching them; giving them suggestions; and affirming what they do. Remember, the product is not important; it’s the process of learning that is significant.
  3. Steps in Methods Process: Read, Research, Discover, Create, Present

(1) Read: Each team is assigned a portion of the focal Bible passage. Usually the passage is divided into 3-4 sections. The leader asks the team to select a member to read their assigned passage aloud so all learners can hear the passage at the same time. This keeps slow/non-readers involved.

(2) Research: Each team is assigned the corresponding commentary in the Learner Guide, Leader guide, or commentary. Again, the team asks a member to read the commentary aloud.

(3) Discover: Each team is given 3-4 questions to discover the answers and briefly discuss:

  • What happened in the Bible passage? What are the facts?
  • What did the Bible passage mean originally?
  • What does the Bible passage mean to me?

  • (4) Create
    : Assign to each team a suggested creative method to use to tell back and demonstrate to the group the Bible truths discovered. The method can range from simply writing the answers to the Discover Questions on a visual or to using one of the basic methods: Art, Paper/Pencil, Drama, Verbal, Games. Change creative methods to keep this approach fresh. Remember, the best method is the one the team chooses to do, so they may ignore your suggestion.

    (5) Practice and Present: Teams have 15 minutes to prepare a 3 minute presentation. Teams are given adequate time to complete assignment, then teams present work to large group. It is frustrating and ineffective to use this approach if teams are not given adequate time to discover, prepare, and complete their assignment. However, encourage teams to answer quickly the Discover Questions and move to the creative part ASAP. The leader sits while teams present, and then uses information shared plus information from the Leader Guide Commentary to add to and tie together the facts and Bible truths presented by each team. The leader then facilitates discussion of the relevance of Bible truths for today and encourages learners to share stories of where the passage intersects with life experiences. The focus stays on the Bible Truth for the session and relates to the unit as a whole.

    This past Sunday we studied Joshua 1:1-18. Here’s a sample team assignment:
    Team One
    Read: Joshua 1:1-18; focal passage vv. 5-9

    Research: P. 16, Rely on God’s Presence – Learner Guide

    Discover:

  • What was God’s repeated exhortation to Joshua as a leader – vv. 6, 7, 9?
  • Why do you think God needed to repeat this command?
  • How can we be strong and courageous even in the face of challenges and/or failures?

  • Create:
    Interview Joshua and one or more of the Israelites. What were they feeling; what were their fears?
    How did they express confidence in God; Joshua?

    Present: You have 15 minutes to prepare a 3 minute presentation.
    ____________________________
    Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

    Sunday School in a Transformational Church

    This is article four of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.

    Mission Oriented

     

    If Sunday School is to become a transformational ministry, its mission must be to make disciples that become more like Jesus.

    But I believe that in many of our churches Sunday School has lost its purpose.   It has become simply a program that exists to sustain itself.  Today, we have a lot of people that diss a program.  There is nothing wrong with a program; it’s simply an organized way of doing something.  We’re reminded in TC:  If structure is not added to what God starts, the powerful momentum can be short lived. Tri Robinson, Revolutionary Leadership

    However, when a program is not mission-oriented it quickly loses its reason for being.  The focus is on keeping the program spinning, and consequently on Sunday morning the Sunday School Director goes to the secretary’s office and helps her count nickels and noses and if there is a vacant hole, he grabs a round person and stuffs him into that square hole just to keep the program spinning.  It exists to sustain itself, not to accomplish the mission.  Sunday School must re-discover its true identity and purpose; not as a program or a church growth strategy but a mission-oriented ministry for making disciples and transforming lives through Transformational Small Communities.

    Read Acts 8:30-35 and Listen for God’s Mission…

    Later God’s angel spoke to Philip:  ‘At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza.’

    He got up and went.  He met an Ethiopian eunuch coming down the road. He was riding in a chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah.

    The Spirit told Philip, ‘Climb into the chariot.’  Running up alongside, Philip heard the eunuch reading Isaiah and asked, ‘Do you understand what you’re reading?’ He answered, ‘How can I without some to help?’ and invited Philip into the chariot with him.  The eunuch said, ‘Tell me who is the prophet talking about:  himself or some other?’  Philip grabbed his chance.  Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him.

    The Message

    What was God’s Mission? For Philip…For the church…For Sunday School…For your class or small group…For you…

    The Mission has not changed! Principle:  A Mission oriented Sunday School is outwardly focused and intentionally evangelistic.

    What is needed to develop a Mission-Oriented Transformational Small Communities ministry?

    A Mission-Oriented Pastor

    • To lead the church to discover its Mission.
    • To Empower the Sunday School to accomplish its purpose of making disciples.

    A Mission-Oriented Sunday School Ministry Team – Without a team, the SS Director’s hands are tied.  He can’t do this by him/herself.  With a team, a mission-oriented, transformational, disciple-making strategy can be planned.

    • Sunday School Director
    • Outreach Coordinator – Works with Class Outreach Leaders
    • Ministry Coordinator – Works with Class Care Group Leaders
    • Adult Representative – One of the Adult Teachers
    • Student/Youth Representative – One of the Youth Teachers
    • Children’s Representative – One of the Children’s Teachers
    • Preschool Representative – One of the Preschool Teachers

    Functions of the Sunday School Ministry Team:

    1. Annual Planning: to accomplish the mission of the church.  Each spring the team meets for an extended planning time to plan the year of Sunday School Ministry.  Example:  Meet Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon.  Divide the year into seasonal quarters and plan each quarters work.
    2. Monthly Coordination: Keeping track and measuring progress of Transformational Ministry.
      1. Evaluate past ministries
      2. Coordinate current ministry
      3. Plan Ahead for future ministries

    The team meets for one hour monthly to keep the ministry coordinated around the mission. 

    A Mission-Oriented Sunday School Organization with a Missionary Mentality in which each group can answer the question:  Who is your ‘People Group’?

    • Age Grading
    • Life-Stage
    • Generational Group
    • Affinity Group
    • Inter-generational
    • Ethnicity

    Organize your Sunday School based on who needs to be reached in your community. Create small groups so that each has a people group to reach.  Example:  People in a small group for 25-35 year old adults will focus on the 25-35 age group as their people group to reach.  This is a missionary mentality for developing a disciple-making culture.

    Mission – Oriented Care Groups in Adult/Student Classes

    • One Care Group Leader for every 4-6 members
    • Function:  Contact Every Member and Prospect Every Week.

    Next week’s blog post( number five of ten) will on Word Driven

    ____________________________
    Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.