Every year I do a study of the fastest growing Sunday Schools in Georgia. Actually it’s a study of all the Sunday Schools in Georgia, but only the fastest growing churches are recognized. This year I made the effort to speak with all the pastors and/or ministers of education from all the leading churches. When I presented the question, “What is the one thing you did to encourage growth in Sunday School”, they all gave the same response. “Start new classes!”
Understand that they were not talking about starting new classes because the existing classes were full. They intentional started new classes as a growth strategy. They were proactive instead of reactive.
Ask yourself, “Why should my church or my class be concerned about starting new classes?”
- New classes often produce spiritual growth.
- New classes provide additional opportunities for service and blessing.
- New classes often produce numerical growth.
- New classes create a sense of excitement and accomplishment.
- New classes enlarge the organizational base and provide choices.
- New classes can help in meeting the felt needs of individuals.
- New classes are more “user friendly” to prospects and new members.
- New classes provide an opportunity for chronic absentees to make a fresh start.
Now, I would like to share with you the best process, I’ve discovered, for starting new adult Sunday School classes, but I want you to know that this process is not for every Sunday School teacher. It takes a very special person that has been called of God. It requires a teacher that is secure in their abilities as a teacher and a leader. This process requires a leader that has ability to stick to the goal and encourage others to do the same. I wish every teacher could do this but the truth is most Sunday School teachers are more interested in growing their kingdom than in growing God’s Kingdom.
Here is a Step by Step Process for Starting New Adult Sunday School Classes.
1. The teacher should enlist an apprentice. This is not a substitute teacher but rather a teacher/leader in training. The apprentice should be the teacher of his or her own class in six to eighteen months.
2. The apprentice should teach once per month. The apprentice is to teach when the teacher is present.
The method I follow is …
a. The first week the teacher prepares the Bible study with the apprentice, the teacher teaches the class and then the teacher and the apprentice get together to evaluate the lesson.
b. The second week the apprentice prepares the Bible study with the aid of the teacher, the apprentice teaches the class and then the teacher and the apprentice get together to evaluate the lesson.
c. The third week the apprentice prepares the Bible study alone, the apprentice teaches the class with the teacher in attendance and then the teacher and the apprentice get together to evaluate the lesson.
3. The teacher and the apprentice should do outreach and ministry together. The teacher is not just teaching the apprentice how to teach, yet the teacher is modeling what it means to be a good teacher/leader. Taking the apprentice on visits to prospects, taking the apprentice on visits to members. The class should begin to see the pair as co-teachers.
4. The teacher should announce the birth of a new class six weeks before. The teacher and the apprentice stand before the class and announce the birth of the new class. They also state that the purpose of the new class is to reach new people. Those going to the new class will be considered “missionaries”. Everyone going to the new class will have a job to do. They will be an outreach leader, care group leader, prayer leader, fellowship leader, etc. The teacher and apprentice also say that they are praying about who will go as “missionaries” and in the coming days they will enlist the missionaries.
5. Four to eight members or couples accept a call as “missionaries” to the new class depending on the size of the parent class and if it is a gender graded class.
On the morning of the new class starting, everyone gathers in the parent classroom to celebrate the birth of the new class and commission the missionaries. I’ve had some parent classes actually have a “baby shower” for the new class. One parent class gave their new class and two coffee pots and a $500 gift certificate to Krispy Kreme. You can’t have Sunday School without those two!
6. Veteran teacher takes missionaries to new class. That’s right the veteran teacher takes the “missionaries” to the new class. Remember I said this process was not for everyone.
7. Apprentice teacher becomes leader of established class.
By using this method two new classes are created instead of just one. Once they’ve done it once they will do it again.
It would be great if one class in every church agreed to start a new class every two years and the classes that they birth would do the same. In ten years we would triple in attendance and baptisms. Give it try if you are an able leader!
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.