In our research on Sunday Schools we discovered a very interesting fact related to the leadership of a pastor. We found that 96% of all churches said that the leadership of the pastor was key to success of their Sunday School. It did not matter whether the church was growing or not but all expressed the need for the pastor to lead the way in Sunday School. The real issue was whether the pastor was providing the needed leadership.
Thom Rainer in Effective Evangelistic Churches said, “… effective Sunday Schools had strong and vocal support from the pastor. Indeed, it was often the pastor who spoke most often about the importance of Sunday School. He did not leave the emphasis in the hands of a minister of education or a Sunday School Director alone. The pastor typically was actively involved in training, recruiting, and promotion in Sunday School.”
If the Sunday School is to be a strategy to accomplish the Great Commission, the pastor must assume leadership. The members of the church will usually make the greatest commitment to that which the pastor gives greatest emphasis. Lay-people will usually commit to serve and even sacrifice to what they see as their pastor’s priority. They must know and understand that the pastor is committed to importance of Sunday School.
Let me suggest ten ways for a pastor to demonstrate/express his leadership and commitment to Sunday School.
1. Proclaim to the church your conviction about Sunday School.
2. Give a brief, weekly Sunday School report before worship begins.
3. Have a commissioning service for Sunday School leaders each year.
4. Incorporate Sunday School testimonies into the worship.
5. Regularly write about Sunday School in your newsletters.
6. Personally enlist, train, and meet regularly with the Sunday School Director.
7. Develop a Sunday School Planning Team.
8. Preach occasionally on Sunday School themes.
9. Seek ways to increase your personal expertise.
10. Make Sunday School leader training a priority in your church through the calendar and budget.
The pastor’s leadership role in the Sunday School could be summarized this way. If leaders are lacking or untrained in the Sunday School, then the pastor must be the key leader of the Sunday School. Once leaders are developed and trained the pastor becomes the chief cheerleader for the Sunday School. If the church is struggling the creation of momentum will require “hands-on” leadership from the pastor in the initial stages no matter how many leaders are presently serving.
Dr. Tim S. Smith serves as the Specialist of the Sunday School and Open Group Ministries of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Visit their website at ssog.gabaptist.org for more information and other resources to aid your Sunday School.