Creating an Atmosphere for Sunday School Growth
By David Frasure
Anyone who has tried to grow tropical plants in the northern part of the United States will tell you it cannot be done, unless the plants are kept inside, out of the frigid winter weather. The environment is critical to the survival of the plants. Who would plow up a spot for a flower garden and then let the dirt decide what it wanted to grow? We know that the soil must be cultivated and the right seeds need to be planted with the right amount of sun and shade. Then we water and feed the garden and remove damaging weeds and insects. To produce good, healthy growth someone must construct and fashion the right circumstances. We know God will do His part when it comes to growing a class spiritually and numerically. Here are a few ways we can do our part in creating an atmosphere for growth.
First, growth occurs in an environment of encouragement. If people feel they are being frequently criticized in class, they will either create conflict or they will go someplace else. Either response is not desirable. One teacher routinely sends out encouragement cards to her junior high girls. Another makes sure that he uses words of encouragement and appreciation while making regular phone calls to class members. Encouragement does not come naturally for everyone, but it can be learned if we are intentional about it.
Second, growth develops when we are all going in the same direction. This is why it is important for a Sunday School teacher to be a team player. Imagine a platoon of soldiers where each had his own agenda while proceeding into battle. Or suppose a basketball player decided the coach had many flaws in his game plan and decided to do his own thing. In the process of pursuing his own plan, he would let his team members down and lose the game in the end. The Bible describes Christians as a body. We each have our independent strengths and abilities, yet we are interdependent and must learn to work together to find success.
Third, growth happens when guests feel welcomed and wanted. One man was directed to a Sunday School class, while visiting a church. When he looked in the class he saw ten men sitting around a table with no other chairs available. He decided to go someplace else. Someone in the class should have been anticipating the needs of a guest by making sure there was an empty chair for visitors. This is why a greeter in each Sunday School class is needed along with a front-door greeting ministry for the entire church. People feel a church is friendly not because we are all friendly with one another, but because members of the church accept the responsibility of demonstrating hospitality.
There is a story told of a boy who walked past two churches to attend a little church at the end of a lane. An unbelieving man watched the boy walk by every Sunday, even if the weather was bad. He imagined that an insensitive adult was forcing the boy to attend. One day he asked the boy why he would pass up other churches to attend the one at the end of the lane. The boy said, “Mister, they know how to love a guy down there.” The next Sunday the man decided to walk with the boy to the church that knew how to love.
David Frasure is a Former State Director of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.
The above article, “Creating an Atmosphere for Sunday School Growth” was written by David Frasure. The article was excerpted from www.sundayschooldirector.com web site. May 2016.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”