You’ve heard the phrase, “The grass is always greener on the other side,” right? Well, in my experience the grass is greener where you water it. That’s what I told a congregation in Calhoun, GA., this past weekend, as I preached a message about the importance of Sunday School in a church’s plan to make disciples. Grass is greener wherever it gets life-sustaining water; Sunday School is healthier and “greener” whenever a church gives it the nutrients it needs to survive and thrive.
Sunday School works, but you have to work Sunday School! My flowerbed would soon be overrun with grass and weeds if I didn’t regularly walk through it and pull some weeds, water the plants and flowers, and occasionally pour on some Miracle Grow. Your Sunday School ministry needs a few things, too, as you work it. Here are three things I’d recommend you do as you regularly work Sunday School:
- Budget for it. I’m working with a church that has almost no budget for its Sunday School curriculum. Money has been diverted elsewhere, and Sunday School is being starved out. The water is being poured onto other ministries, but this is the church’s largest ministry! I can tell if Sunday School is important by simply following the money trail at your church. Is your church budgeting enough money for every individual to have a Personal Study Guide? What about regular, ongoing training for each and every group leader (and I don’t mean some obligatory annual “training” event – I mean monthly or quarterly ongoing training)? Are you updating facilities and buying needed equipment and toys for your preschool classrooms?
- Talk about it. If you want people to be in groups, tell them! People need to know what you expect of them, so if you’re a staff leader, regularly tell people through a pulpit announcement, a blurb in your worship bulletin, or a page on your website that you expect people to belong to a smaller group that studies the Bible together. And by the way, if your church has a new member’s class, by all means tell those potential members that you expect them to attend worship and belong to a Bible study group!
- Train for it. It’s true that ongoing training and Sunday School growth are tied together. At least that’s what the Georgia Baptist Convention discovered in a survey of over 2400 of its churches. Churches that had ongoing training (quarterly or monthly) grew over 13% during a 4 year survey period. Churches that had no training actually declined -2.1%.
As a friend of mine, Dwayne McCrary, once said: “If you starve anything long enough, it’ll die.” And therein lies the problem in so many Sunday Schools – we’ve starved them of money, time on the church calendar (to train leaders), and attention, and we wonder why it’s in decline in many churches.
Time to pour some water on it, wouldn’t you say?
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