Seal Up Those Cracks!
By Jan Cagno
All too often our Sunday schools are not showing growth because we are losing too many people through the cracks.
New folks come to visit and may even come back several times and eventually decide that they wish to become a permanent part of the program but others, many of whom may have been members for many months or several years, become disenchanted and we never see them again. What causes us to lose so many? What are the cracks in our “firm foundations?” Let’s consider those things that people, who are searching for a Sunday school and those who have grown up in the Sunday school, expect to find.
1. A friendly accepting atmosphere. Do your people make it a point to warmly welcome visitors and continue to be friendly each time they come?
2. Sound teaching from God’s Word. Are your Sunday school lessons an in depth study of what God’s Word has to say about each issue, rather than an exchange of ideas or the opinions of the various class members or the teacher?
3. Fellowship with others whose stage in life is similar. Are your children’s and youth classes carefully graded for the best advantage of both student and teacher and are adult classes formed for those who are experiencing similar stages of life rather than strictly by age? (For example: singles, parents of young children, parents of teens, “empty nesters,” senior citizens, etc.)
4. Opportunities for fun and activity. Does your Sunday school program include social activities for each class? Adults as well as teenagers and children need to have good times together outside the Sunday school classroom. This is the time when deep friendships are forged and much sharing and caring is experienced. Sometimes these social events need to cross age barriers and be planned for the entire Sunday school family. This can help to strengthen individual families within the Sunday school and will be an enriching experience for singles as well as couples as they learn to have fun together.
5. A feeling of “belonging.” One of the greatest challenges of the Sunday school is to make each member feel that they are important and have their very own special “niche.” This goes beyond the feeling of welcome that we express to newcomers, and it is more than the superficial friendliness that is too often all that is expressed to newcomers. It means making sure that every member of the class is involved in the life of the class.
6. The answer to their personal and spiritual needs. All the friendliness and fun in the world cannot suffice, if life’s needs are not being met. Although all of the afore mentioned things are important, the bottom line is still the personal and spiritual fulfillment that adults and teenagers, in particular, need to find in their Sunday school and church. Therefore, we must remember to maintain the proper focus in our Sunday schools.
In conclusion: If our Sunday schools meet the needs of our members, keep the focus Bible-centered, are well organized and maintain an outreach ministry, there is no question about the fact that they will grow. If we want to keep those who are already a part of our Sunday school, we must work equally hard at making them feel important in the rapidly growing and often changing program. It can be almost like walking a tightrope to maintain the careful balance that is necessary to weld together the old and the new into a cohesive body, working in unity. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
Maximize that power as your teachers and staff members meet together often for prayer sessions and an opportunity to talk out problems and exchange ideas. Don’t neglect the social emphasis that will help to build a strong bond among your members and never ever let a tiny hairline crack spread until it becomes a chasm through which many are lost.