Sunday School that excelsBill McCall identifies six areas of focus in fulfilling his role as volunteer Sunday School Director for New Life Church. First, the Sunday school teachers must be supported and deeply valued. He knows them personally, and they know him. He is accessible and is there to serve them. The teachers are keenly aware that the entire congregation places great value on Sunday school teachers, and that by serving as a teacher they are performing a very vital ministry to the Lord. Bill is visible each Sunday greeting teachers and classes, expressing encouragement, and affirmation.

The second factor in their success in Sunday school is the quarterly teacher’s meeting. This is a high-octane, high energy meeting that maximizes time and meets needs. Bill describes these meetings as a “huddle or pep talk” used to encourage, motivate, and express appreciation to teachers. He also listens to their challenges, and they discuss ways to overcome them. Success stories are celebrated and detailed. Ideas are traded on how the classes conduct effective follow-up and fellowship. Training bytes are an important component of these meetings. Bill ensures that basic leadership skills are covered concerning lesson plans, class dynamics, and the relational aspects of Sunday school.

The third component of the Sunday school success at New Life Church is the emphasis on guest ministry. This aspect of small group ministry is underscored by both Director and Pastor as being an absolute top priority. Making guests feel welcome, affirmed, valued, and important is a source of constant training and emphasis. Pastor Sid and Bill both are actively involved in the guest ministry and set a fantastic example for the Sunday school and congregation to follow.

Teachers are expected to arrive early and be there to personally greet each guest. Hosts and hostesses, armed with name tags, personally escort each first-time guest from the Welcome Center to the Sunday school class. Guests are greeted by teachers and class members where they enjoy fellowship and light refreshments. Pastor and Sunday School Director alike strive to make it extremely difficult to attend New Life as a guest without being made to feel like one is valued by God and the members of His church. Bill believes you have to offer attendees what they can’t get by watching a worship service on television– personal interaction with people who truly care about you and deeply desire to engage you in their friendship group.

A fourth element of New Life’s Sunday school is that the volunteer Sunday School Director applies good organizational skills. Curriculum and resources are ordered on time and placed in the classrooms in a timely manner. The Sunday school secretary maintains proper records. Guest and prospect information is up to date and thorough. The absence of haphazard management and organization instills a sense of pride in the Sunday school ministry from the teacher’s and officer’s perspective, and signals to them that they are valued and are devoting their time to a very worthwhile cause.

A fifth component of the Sunday school organization is the enlistment of teachers and workers. Though the Sunday school personnel are channeled through the Nominating Committee for final approval, the Sunday School Director and Pastor has a major leadership role in this process. When it comes to teachers of new classes, they are hand-selected by the pastor and Sunday School Director. Pastor Sid and Bill are constantly in search of emerging leaders in the church. They understand that a key component of strategic church leadership is identifying, enlisting, training, deploying, and supporting Sunday school teachers. The value they place on the Sunday school in general and new classes in particular drive them to place the absolute best leaders in these positions.

The last, and one of the most important components of New Life’s effective Sunday school organization, is their intentionality in starting new, small groups. Bill, Pastor Sid, and the entire church understand the necessity of beginning new classes to reach new people. Creating new groups is a continual focus and priority for New Life Church. Pastor Sid writes a letter to all potential new Sunday school members inviting them to be a part of the small group ministry, especially when new classes are forming. New Life Church builds their new class starts on specialty groups or target groups, especially those with unique ministry needs. These may include singles, singles again, ladies whose husbands do not attend church, and young married couples. They can prove anecdotally that the rule found in any standard Sunday school manual is true–for every class you start and conduct properly will result in a gain of ten in average Sunday School attendance.
Steve Parr. (2013). Sunday School that Really Excels.