Dr. Larry Richmond, DOM for St. Louis Association, Illinois asked me over supper the other night if I had any advice for him. At the time, I didn’t, but the question got me thinking. I think this is a great idea. You might want to pass it along to the leader(s) of your Association.

Why not have a celebration dinner for all the teachers in the Association who have birthed a group in the last year. Make it a big deal–held at a nice restaurant with all the trimmings. There are three reasons I think this is a great idea:

You grow a Sunday School by creating new groups.

Sunday School 101 states, “You double a Sunday School not by doubling the size of each group but by doubling the number of groups.” If you have a Sunday School of 200 people, it will have about 20 groups. It may be 18, or, it may be 22, but it will be about 20. If you want to grow from 200 to 400 you don’t do it by going from 20 groups of 10 to 20 groups of 20. You do it by going from 20 groups of 10 to 40 groups of 10. This is the way Sunday Schools always grow.

This is even more true if you use home groups rather than a Sunday School style system. In a Sunday School style system, you can evolve into the mid-sized group model. A mid-sized group is not a big small group. It is a group with small groups. In an ideal world, these groups sit around tables and have a leader. They are permanent groups that meet in a face to face setting around tables each week. The Master-Teacher teaches the entire group, then, prepares discussion questions for the table-groups to discuss. Thus, you have the best of all worlds. You have a skilled presenter who teaches the lesson, then you have interactive discussion in a very small group of six or eight. You can do this in a large room at the church; it is more difficult to do in a home.

The #1 job of the Minister of Education and/or Sunday School director is to initiate the creation of new groups. Growing a Sunday School is all about creating new groups. Having a dinner for all the teachers in the Association that birthed a new group would send a strong reinforcing message that this is what is important. This is what matters. We want to create new groups.

Whatever gets rewarded gets done

This is the #1 rule of management: whatever gets rewarded gets done. We don’t get what we want to get, nag to get, ask to get or beg to get. We get what we reward. Whatever gets rewarded gets done.

Kenneth Blanchard (One Minute Manager) taught us that most managers spend about 80% of their energy telling people what they ought to do and 20% of their energy rewarding them for doing the right things. We ought to do the opposite. We ought to spend 80% of our energy rewarding what you want to happen and 20% or our energy telling them what we want to happen. If we would spend more time rewarding the right behavior, we would need to spend less time telling them what we want to happen.

One way to reward people for starting new groups would be to have an annual banquet for them. I would include both the teacher who birthed the class and the teacher who started the new class. (That is, the leaders of the parent and daughter class.) Let the individual churches do the actual selecting and inviting. Invite the spouses. Have some good music and a good, short speaker. (What I mean is, have the speaker give a short talk; it doesn’t really matter if he/she tall or short!) Alternatively, have several of the teachers share a testimony of how their classes reached some people this year. Make it celebrative, fun, exciting, fast-moving. You might come up with some creative rewards and have a few prizes to pass our. Provide child-care.

The cost of the banquet could be paid for by the Association, or, each church could pay for their own teachers. Obviously, we don’t want to ask the teachers themselves to pay.

There is one more reason I think this is a good idea

Ideas spread when the users can talk to other users

Innovations of almost any kind spread best when fellow users can connect with one another. As they compare notes, swap stories, and tell of their experience with the innovation, they fire each other up about its use.

In a similar way, I think there would be a great advantage in getting all the doubling leaders in the Association together in the same room to swap stories. You might provide a few questions for each table to discuss. I would definitely want to seat them around round tables where they could connect with one another. Some of these teachers would be creating classes every year and would show up year after year and develop relationships with the fellow doubling teachers in the Association.

Runners run fast when they run together. If a runner is on a track all by himself, he doesn’t have a lot of motivation to push himself. Put him with a group of runners and you will find his speed increase.

By getting your doubling teachers together, they would mutually encourage one another and spur one another on to good works. They would swap stories, spread ideas, problem-solve and generally motivate one another to keep up the good work.

Say, could you do me a favor? If you think this idea is a good one, pass it along to your DOM. If you are a DOM, pass it along to your fellow DOMs.