Clarify The Win

Clarity brings focus to an organization…clarity about mission, purpose, and goals.  If you are a staff member and want to see your Sunday School energized and focused, consider “clarifying the win” for your teachers.  If you are a Sunday School teacher, clarify the win for the learners in your classroom so they know exactly what a “win” looks like for the class.  Haven’t thought about clarifying the win?  Read on.

In the book Seven Practices of Effective Ministry, author Andy Stanley discussed the importance of clarifying the win in our churches.  Here is a short excerpt of what he said:

“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.”

Do Your People Know What a ‘Win” Is?

Sunday School teachers may believe the goal is to “get through the lesson” each week, so they structure the teaching time for minimal interaction with learners…it becomes an “information dump” from the teacher to the student.  For other teachers, the goal may be to “have a good time” and the emphasis is on enjoying fellowship and relationships with minimal emphasis on the Bible study lesson.  Finally, teachers might have a goal of teaching for life transformation.  If this is the goal, there is an emphasis on more than just attendance, relationships, and getting through the lesson.  The teacher knows the real goal is the spiritual transformation of his or her learners.  The goal becomes helping learners establish good spiritual habits so they become a growing, multiplying, serving disciple of Jesus Christ.  The teacher becomes a fellow sojourner, a fellow disciple, and a guide and coach who leads learners to discover spiritual truths for themselves and to apply them in their daily lives.

Both staff leaders and teachers must “clarify the win” so that everyone knows what a “win” looks like.  Without clarity, the things that Andy Stanley wrote about will come to pass, and you’ll have lots of teachers all going after different “wins” in their classrooms.  Maybe this is why so many Sunday Schools are in trouble today…staff leaders haven’t provided the right kind of leadership to clarify the win so that teachers are all pulling in the same direction.  A hands-off approach to leadership will lead to the situation that took place in the last line of the book of Judges…”Everyone did what was right in his own sight,” and that’s a recipe for disaster in your Sunday School!

Getting Back on Track

If you want to clarify the win, whether you are a staff leader or a Sunday School teacher, consider spending some personal time with the Lord deciding what you want from your Sunday School leaders and the learners entrusted to your care.  Make sure these wins are based in Scripture, and then share them with those you lead.  Agree to the “wins” with your teachers by creating a teacher covenant that has agreed upon goals.  If you are a teacher in a Sunday School class, speak frankly with your class members about how you want your time together this year to impact their lives so they can reach a higher level of spiritual maturity.

Winning isn’t about getting through a lesson each Sunday, nor is it about simply enjoying fun and fellowship in class.  Winning is about helping adults look and act more like Jesus.  As you clarify the win, help adults focus on living as fully devoted followers of Christ.  There’s no harm in getting through a lesson or having a good time doing it, but don’t stop there or you’ll stop short of the real win that adults need.


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