Sunday School Organization For the Home Mission or Small Church
By T & J Hudson
Organize the Sunday School Division to touch people’s lives. Giving love and care, knowing their names and needs, and calling them when they are absent or just to say “hello” mean much more than does a regimented class. Our goal—salvation for all people—comes more often through love and care than through skillfully prepared lectures. The majority of churches, whether small or large, begin their primary church organization by organizing a Sunday School Division. The Sunday School is possibly the most effective tool known for church growth. Most Americans grew up believing it necessary to attend Sunday School, whether they practiced this belief or not.
A well organized Sunday School Division promotes growth in every division. Before “Home Bible Studies” and “Cell Groups” became popular among adults, children enticed parents, brothers, sisters and friends to take them to church. They enjoyed attending a Bible study personalized for their needs and taught at their level of understanding. Many adults who once attended Sunday School stopped going to church but never forgot the Bible stories taught by a faithful teacher. The principles they learned through practical applications returned to their memories when life became unbearable. These very lessons led them back to the old rugged cross.
Developing a successful Sunday School with dedicated teachers that bring excitement and a feeling of warmth to the classroom causes the children to return again and again. Even at times when adults feel life is too complicated and they cannot serve God, they do not want their children to grow up without knowing a loving Savior. If the children are excited and desiring to go to Sunday School, they will take them. Often this sense of duty becomes their salvation.
As you begin to organize the Sunday School Division, start with a simple and precise plan. Use everyone willing and available. Give them a responsibility, a title and a “Job Description.” Analyze each person in your church and observe the things they do. Their actions will reveal to you their obvious talents and abilities. We often wrote a “Job Description” after observing a person doing what came natural to him and after observing the results of his actions. If the person is not ready to join the teaching staff but wants to be involved, make him or her your supply manager. Have him collect different items for projects and crafts for the children. Give others a list of the children and have them call each of them once a week and chat with them about Sunday School. Compel the father that only brings his kids to church to plan a ball game for the youngsters at the park. Ask an unsaved mom to plan a birthday party for a child that would otherwise be left out. Use your imagination. Create jobs for everyone.
Shortly after the end of our first year in Mesa, Arizona, our entire congregation left us. Discouraged? Of course. But determined, we knocked doors in the neighborhood of our small church building, and in the neighbor hood of our home. The next Sunday we had seventy people in church, mostly kids.
Our building had a small auditorium and one classroom. Pastor Hudson taught the adults in the classroom and I taught all the children and teens in the auditorium. I enlisted the help of the teenagers, put them over different groups of the kids, and started telling Bible stories. We sang songs and created plays by using the context of the stories and then acted them out. We had no funds to buy literature. One Sunday, I went to the grocery store and asked for a large roll of butcher paper. I taped this to one wall of the auditorium and when the younger kids became restless, I had them draw pictures of the Bible stories on the paper.
Some of our first Christmas plays were the best ever. We simply had someone read the Bible story and the children acted out the narration. The children sang Christmas carols between every segment of the story. From the smallest child to the teenagers, everyone participated. All the boys became wise men or shepherds and dressed in borrowed bathrobes. We dressed all the girls as angels and created wings out of aluminum foil and clothes hangers. The parents wrapped small boxes and put money in them as gifts for their children. The children then placed these gifts before the Christ child. This money became our Christmas for Christ offering. We gathered palm tree branches, trimmed greenery off bushes and trees, and covered the platform.
We created a Bethlehem and a manger scene out of huge furniture boxes. Everyone participated. Parents and grandparents who had never visited the church came. Our building filled to capacity and everyone enjoyed the true Christmas story. We simply took those we had and put them to work. Most of the people involved had not found salvation. Organizing them and involving them in children’s plays created memories that brought them back again and again.
No Funds for Fancy Literature?
Use the Context of the Bible Stories
Act them Out
When organizing the Sunday School Division, use those who love children. In a new church start or a small congregation, there may not be many qualified teachers. Start a Sunday School Division and train your staff as you teach. If a person truly loves children, consider him a candidate for teaching. Children sense the inner-feelings of a person and respond accordingly.
If a person has not taught before, do not disqualify him. Remember that moms have vast experience in teaching little ones on a daily basis. Try different ones as assistants and observe their responses. They soon understand what you desire from them.
When training new teachers, practice on them and have them practice on everyone else. Read the Bible story and then have them act out the content. Teachers teaching the smaller children need to get on the child’s level and put as much enthusiasm as possible into their stories. Use every available tool to embed the stories of the Scriptures into little minds.
Classroom space is important, but often it is not available in the new or small church. Use your imagination. Effective classes can be held under a tree, in a parking lot or in a park during good weather. Classes can be held on a bus or in a van. Children love change and variety. One teacher, who found her classroom unavailable, simply piled her class into her car and took them to MacDonald’s or Dairy Queen for the morning. It is amazing what teachers with creative minds can do.
If teachers are not available, and classroom space is limited, consider starting Super Kid’s Church. Using this method, one or two persons can teach the entire group and still generate excitement, deliver the message of salvation, and depend on God to bring results.
Organizing The Sunday School Division
1. List men, women and teens who love children and communicate well.
2. Choose the Sunday School Coordinator carefully. In order to establish and lead the Sunday School Staff, this person must not only work well with children but also must get along with all ages and personality types.
3. All members of the Sunday School Staff should be faithful and loyal to the church and leadership.
4. Create an up-to date list of everyone that attends tl1e church, Obtain as much general information about each one as possible.
5. Divide these into age groups according to the natural age divisions of the church. Always be willing to make exceptions according to the particular student’s maturity, both mentally and physically. Each person needs to be as comfortable as possible with his or her class.
6. Create attractive notebooks for each Sunday School Staff member. Instruct and train them. Give each a job description and a commitment sheet to sign.
7. List projects needed to organize the Sunday School Classrooms.
8. Decorate each classroom according to the needs of that group.
a. Estimate cost to complete each project
b. Time needed to complete each project
c. Materials needed
d. Tools needed
e. Possible donations of materials and funds
9. Plan a short staff meeting each Sunday Morning and a planning and training session each quarter.
10. Create a convenient place for the Teacher or Attendance Recorder to pick up their Attendance Notebook.
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.”