“Clarify the Win” to bring focus to your Sunday School

You’ve probably heard the expression, “If you don’t aim at something, you’ll hit anything.”  I wonder how many Sunday School teachers aren’t sure what they are aiming for each week.  Sunday School directors, Ministers of Education, and Pastors must “clarify the win” for teachers so they will know what they are supposed to be aiming at each week.  Only when the “win” is clarified can a teacher focus his or her energy and attention on accomplishing the win.  Consider the words of Andy Stanley in his book Seven Practices of Effective Ministry:

“The church should be more determined than any other organization to ‘clarify the win’ simply because the stakes are so much higher.  Eternity hangs in the balance.  Clarifying the win simply means communicating to your team what is really important, what really matters.  The best way to leverage the collective power of your team is to make sure that everyone knows what it means to “score.”

Nothing hinders morale more than when team members with separate agendas are pulling against one another.  If the win is unclear, you may force those in leadership roles to define winning in their own terms.  If you don’t define winning for your ministry leaders, they will define it for themselves.

It doesn’t take very long for leaders to take over a class, start a new program, begin an innovative ministry, and rally a crowd to follow them.  They may only be ten degrees off track, but given enough time they will miss the target by miles.  It’s not that they are intentionally being defiant or difficult, they’re just being leaders.

But countless leaders have innocently sabotaged their church by leading people in the wrong direction.  And the fault lies with an organization that has not been systematic about defining and clarifying what a win really is.

Misalignment usually happens gradually.  And if it goes unchecked, it can wreak havoc on an organization.  Like the wheels on a car pulling against each other, misalignment will ultimately ruin the tires and waste enormous amount of fuel.”

Several years ago I decided to “clarify the win” for my adult Sunday School teachers and I re-branded our Sunday School.  The name was changed to LIFE Groups and I created an acrostic for the word LIFE that detailed the four key tasks every class was to aim for.  I had these four expectations turned into large posters that we mounted at the front of every adult classroom.  Each week my teachers and the adult learners were reminded of the four key tasks expected of their class:

Learn and apply God’s Word to life

Invite others to become Christ followers

Form authentic relationships

Express God’s love by serving others in the church and community

These four statements were a constant reminder of the four “wins” that I expected of every adult Sunday School, er, LIFE Group.  We changed the name of Sunday School, but it was done intentionally, and not because we thought Sunday School was an out-of-date term, but because we wanted to “clarify the win” for our teachers and adult learners.

Our four “wins” were (1) studying God’s Word and applying it to life (2) evangelizing friends, relatives, and neighbors (3) building relationships with one another, including guests (4) meeting needs in the church and out in the community.

Compare my four wins against the four wins contained in LifeWay’s “Connect-Grow-Serve-Go” strategy….they are practically identical, just in different orders!  No wonder I resonate with these four key goals of adult Sunday School.  To learn more about LifeWay’s Connect-Grow-Serve-Go strategy, click here to view PowerPoint slideshows, videos, and other resources.


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