Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Sunday School Story that Could be Your Story

Around the spring season of last year a pastor made a call to a church consultant.  The pastor was seeking help for his Sunday School and to discover what was needed to get the Sunday School organized for growth and ministry.  He inquired if the consultant would come to his church to observe, to evaluate and to make recommendations that would allow the people and the church to move to the next growth level. This is a Sunday School story that could be your story too!

After a visit to the church the consultant discovered four major areas that could hinder further growth and ministry if not corrected and improved:

  • Inadequate parking, not only for the present attendance, but for the anticipated growth as well.
  • The Sunday School needed to be reorganized to improve the ministry of Sunday School (teaching, in-reach, outreach, training, etc.) 
  • Space evaluation revealed they were utilizing 95% of the available space for the existing attendance.
  • More space was needed for worship. Both worship hours were at 80% capacity of the existing space.  At present, there was little room for adding new worshipers.
  • To make guests and members feel more welcome and to offer information, a Hospitality ministry needed to be established.

With these facts in hand, the church growth consultant offered some major recommendations to be accomplished over a nine month period. They needed to . . .

  • Reorganize the Sunday School into two sessions with suggested hours to begin at 8:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.
  • Offer three worship services that would begin at 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and at 11:00 a.m.  
  • A time line was recommended to begin both of these changes on the first Sunday in January, 2014.
  • At the same time, while implementing the first two recommendations, a recommendation was submitted that the church pave, light and landscape the rest of the available land for parking improvement and expansion.
  • Develop a hospitality ministry that would include welcome greeters, parking greeters, transportation,  sanctuary zone welcome hosts , ushers, a medical team and a security team.

During the nine months required for the church membership to prepare to begin, they experienced new growth. The consultant contributed the growth and renewed spirit of the church to the focus on church wide prayer, their faith in the Lord's guidance and provision and the entire church family's commitment to the consultant's recommendations for the plans to make changes and improvements.  They were willing to listen and they embraced a "whatever it takes" attitude.

The stories of blessings of all God did for this church over the nine months is too numerous to describe in a blog post. If you were to ask the staff what led to the success, they would point to their willingness to allow the Lord to lead and to consistent planning, prayer and attention to detail.

So how is this church doing today?

  • Sunday School has significantly increased in attendance, quality teaching, ministry, outreach and in-reach. 
  • Worship services have grown significantly.
  • New leaders were enlisted, trained, and empowered to serve.
  • Prayer has taken the forefront.
  • There is a resurgence of people receiving Christ and joining the church.
  • There is a passion and excitement among the entire church body as they watch to see what God is going to do next.
Here is a list of activities the church planned with the consultant to help them accomplish their nine month transition:

  • March: Recommendations were to be presented to the church. The church prayed for the Lord's guidance and His will and then moved to vote to accept them. They voted to start the new organization on Jan. 12 2014.  The consultant developed a timeline that would assist the staff in the projects they should  follow on a monthly basis. The staff accepted the guidelines and moved onward and upward.
  • April: The staff developed job descriptions for all workers in the Sunday School and enlisted a Sunday School Director using the Job Description for that position. 
  • May: Enlisted the Sunday School Leadership team using the job descriptions. This team consisted of the pastor, the Sunday School Director, a director from each age group,  an Outreach Director, an In-reach director and a Secretary. In addition, a Hospitality Director was enlisted.
  • June: Scheduled a Leadership Team Planning Retreat. The Leadership Team began enlisting Department Directors to be completed by July 30, 2013.  The Hospitality Director enlisted a team leader for each ministry team.
  • July: The Hospitality and Sunday School Department Directors enlistment should be completed. A choir enlistment plan should begin.
  • August: Hospitality Directors shall begin enlisting the team members and the Sunday School Department Directors shall begin enlistment of the teachers. A card was developed to allow families to choose what hour they would attend Sunday School and worship.
  • September: A letter shall be sent to all church members explaining the worship and Sunday School new programs. A card was included for the family to reenlist in Sunday School and commit to a Worship hour.
  • October: Teachers were sent their new class ministry lists. Teachers began enlisting their class leaders. 
  • November: The new Sunday School organization is to be completed. A training school was held for all Sunday School Workers and Hospitality Teams. Teachers shall begin contacting all class members. Prospects are assigned to appropriate age group classes, and contacts are to begin.
  • December: Choir enlistment shall be completed. Contacts are to continue.  
  • January:  A commitment service shall be held for all workers. Setup/cleanup day and a prayer service for new organization shall be held. The commitment service shall include all leaders. Conduct Launch Sunday.

This plan could be your plan. This story could be your story. It does take work and outside help, but God will bless!

Sharon Gary Smith,  Church Growth Consultant and member of the 4:12 Network.