“Going Back to School” part 4
In my last three posts(part 1, Part 2, Part 3), I wrote about how Sunday school became “orphaned” in our ministries because we forgot it was created for the purpose of evangelism; the myths we have believed about Sunday school, which keep us from making it a priority in our ministries; and finally, the historical development of Sunday school through the work of Arthur Flake, and his plan for growth called Flake’s Formula. Now it’s time to get practical about Sunday school and learn about some ideas you can use to develop your Sunday school classes. Now as a disclaimer, this isn’t the only way to do Sunday school. I’m still learning new techniques and developing how Sunday school looks like in my ministry. Furthermore, since Sunday school is a small group, you can always apply some of these ideas to your small group ministry.
I use the master teacher format, where one person teaches and students break into classes with teachers who lead a discussion about the lesson. I like this format for three reasons: (1) it gets me taking an active role in Sunday school; (2) I have an easier time enlisting teachers since people are more inclined to lead a discussion than teach a lesson; and (3) it helps my teacher focus more on relationships than worrying about teaching the greatest lesson ever! I teach out of a curriculum and send my teachers a lesson outline each week, so they know what direction I will be going with the lesson. I usually teach between 15 and 20 minutes.
Each class begins with Hi/Lows, where each student and teacher share a hi point of their week and a low point of their week. I like using Hi/Lows because it helps the students connect with each other, and know how they can pray for each other. The teachers are given five questions (which I come up with and are emailed with the lesson outline) for the class to discuss. The last question of the class always pertains to how students can apply the lesson to their lives. The students answer this question on a notecard, and are encouraged to keep their notecard with them for the week to remind them what they learned in class. The last question is between the students and God, so we don’t discuss it as a group.
Every class has three teams, and the idea is to get every student on a team to get them active in their class. The three teams are:
Teaching: students on this team will lead the class discussion by asking the questions that are given to the teachers, and close the class with prayer.
Greeting: students on the greeting team greet new visitors, haven them fill out a student information card, and either text or send a postcard thanking the visitor for coming.
Fellowship: students on the fellowship team take attendance, send out invites to everyone in the class for future fellowships, and texts or send a postcard to students who have missed more than two weeks of class.
Teams are great, but they also require the teachers to keep the students accountable for keeping up with their roles. The odds are you will have multiple students on each team, so you’ll need to create a rotation system so everyone has a chance to participate. Furthermore, you can always develop new teams besides these ones.
I require my teachers to have a minimum of two class fellowships in the fall and spring semester. Fellowships give students and teachers time to grow closer together as a class, a chance to invite a friend, and opens the opportunity for classes to have cross over fellowships with each other.
My teachers also have to do one mission project as a class in the fall and spring semester. I help the teachers with developing a mission project, and classes can also work together on mission projects. For example, this semester all the classes came together and raised money to make a Birthday in a Box (boxes filled with everything a kid needs to have a birthday party), and they took the boxes to our local women’s shelter for women who may not be able to provide a birthday party for their child.
In the end, to make all of this work, you’re going to have to meet with your teachers on a monthly basis to keep them accountable, encourage them, toss around different ideas to improve classes, and to schedule events. What I’ve learned about Sunday school is it thrives on structure, and without it, we can guarantee Sunday school will become dead weight in our ministries. Creating a structure for your Sunday school ministry takes time and continuous work, but it’s worth it. In the end, if all of this overwhelms you and you need to discuss Sunday school more, or you need someone to toss ideas around with, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org