Monthly Archives: August 2012

Life Change through Sunday School small groups

Two important announcements:

1.  I look forward to seeing all who are interested in coming to our next Sunday School Leadership meeting on Wednesday, September 5th at 7pm.

2.  Due to the holiday weekend we will move our Department Director’s meeting to Sunday, September 9th at the regular time.

The fun stuff:

Ed Stetzer is president of the research department of  Lifeway Christian Resources, and a prolific writer.  In addition to providing some of the most insightful analysis of church related research available today, he also contributes great insight to church leaders regarding  Sunday School small group ministries.  In this week’s post, I would like to highlight 4  points that he makes from a recent article about how Sunday School classes change lives.  You can read the whole article here.   Below are  4 points  on the life changing qualities of Sunday School…with my commentary.

1. Connectable: Small groups connect people in relationships. According to William Hendricks in Exit Interviews, one common reason given by people who leave churches is a failure to connect in relationship. Small groups provide a comfortable environment for newcomers to connect.

My thought:   You may be thinking,”Tell me something I don’t hear every time we have a leadership meeting.”   I know, we say all the time that Sunday School is where people connect and don’t get  lost in the crowd.  This is a simple and profound truth that we just can’t lose sight of, and one that bears repeating.  One of the most exciting things that I witness at PSBC is how every week we have new guests who come to our worship service.  Every Week.  This causes me to be both excited and anxious.  It excites me because that’s a bunch of new people who could join our fellowship and serve the Kingdom alongside us at PSBC.  It makes me anxious because if we don’t follow-up well, that’s a lot of people over time that will have slipped through the cracks.  Join me in committing to diligently follow-up with guests so that no one leaves our church because they never connected to a small group.

2. Reproducible: In human growth, multiplication allows the cell to become multiple cells, which allows change and growth to occur. Similarly, for growth to occur in the church, people groups must continuously grow and multiply. Small groups are more easily multiplied than large groups.

My thought:  This Sunday we will begin 2 new Sunday School small groups.  Both groups are growing mostly out of classes that were started themselves not long ago. We have had a record-breaking attendance level this summer.  Our overall Sunday School attendance has increased every year for 6 years in a row.  God is blessing us with healthy groups that are improving in how they care for one another and  enjoying rich fellowship and Bible study.  What this means is that we have a tradition of being a good Sunday School, and have the opportunity to grow into a great one.  Depending on the Lord for blessings, and sticking to our simple shared values that make Sunday School W.O.R.K will get us there.

3. Assimilative: Just as small groups connect newcomers to the church through relationships, small groups assimilate members to ministry through service. As people in small groups grow in relationship together, they will readily serve alongside others and integrate into ministry opportunities.

My thought:  The Sunday School is not JUST a ministry of the church.  It IS THE CHURCH organized to mobilize in ministry.  I want to begin highlighting local ministry opportunities at our leadership meetings.  Would you consider leading your group in prayerfully considering how it could mobilize in ministry around our community?

4. Transformative: Small groups allow individuals to experience faster and deeper personal transformation through authentic community. For non-Christian seekers, small groups provide a safe setting to ask questions in a community of people who also wrestle and struggle. Thus, when they do come to faith in Christ, they are more likely to experience authentic life-change having been in and remaining in community.

My thought: Translation: real life happens in Sunday School small groups.  We celebrate life’s joys together, we care for each other in times of struggle, we pray for each other’s needs,  we apply the bible to real concerns, and enjoy real blessings from it all.  The growth and life change God wants to bring about in us doesn’t happen in a test tube, it happens in the real world.  It happens when we get real with God and one another in Sunday School.  God’s plan is to use  the community of believers to care for and disciple one another.

Thank you for your hard work and commitment to the values that make Sunday School W.O.R.K.!

Categories: Keeps People Connected, Organized to Serve, Reaches Out to New People, Studies God's Word Together, Wants to Grow | Leave a comment

introverts and extroverts in small groups

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read a great article this week about extroverts and introverts in church.  Some of the article focuses on leading a team that includes introverts, but much of the article directly applies to  understanding the personality differences between the two.  I have found it challenging and insightful to consider how we conduct our ministries and small groups based on our own extrovert or introvert tendencies.  Understanding which personality type we have, and how we can better interact with others who are different can dramatically improve the quality of our small group experiences.  Here are some of what I thought were the more helpful insights.

Let’s start with trying to define extroversion and introversion with a few examples:

• Extroverts are people who get energized when with other people, introverts get energized when being by themselves. (As one introvert described it: ‘introverts are people who find other people tiring’)

• Introverts usually prefer environments with less stimuli (sounds, visual stimuli, etc), whereas extroverts love being stimulated on multiple levels.

• In general, extroverts are more doers, introverts are usually more thinkers and want to understand things.

• Extroverts are talkers, introverts are usually more thoughtful and less impulsive.

• Extroverts are often restless when alone and tend to constantly seek the company of others, introverts need time alone to recharge and think.

• Extroverts most of the time think out loud, they formulate their opinions and come to conclusions through talks and discussions. Introverts need time to process and think things through. They need solitude and reflection to come to conclusions.

• Introverts often have better concentration than extroverts, who get easily distracted by what’s happening around them.

• One other very interesting difference: extroverts often focus on breadth, introverts on depth. It’s one of the reasons why introverts are often bad at small talk, they just don’t see the point and would rather talk about stuff that matters.

Surprisingly, research has shown that introverts are in the minority, with statistics suggesting 75% of the people are extraverted as to 25% being introverted.  The article goes on to suggest  some insightful ways to make your gatherings more introvert friendly.  Here is a link to the article, I believe it will be a great resource for your group if you have a chance to take a look.

http://www.churchleaders.com/youth/youth-leaders-articles/162431-how-to-handle-introverts-in-your-ministry.html#.UDAPQbvO-fM.facebook

I would love to hear what your thoughts are on how this affects the quality of a person’s Sunday School class experience.  Was this information helpful to you in thinking about how to care for those in your group who have a different personality than you?

Important point: we have some teachers that are extroverts and some that are introverts.  If you feel energized after Sunday School you are probably an extrovert.  If on Saturday evening you begin to feel the pressure of Sunday School coming, and feel exhausted after class, you may be an introvert.  Introverts need to give themselves time to recharge after a group experience.  Both can be great teachers and leaders, but understanding your own needs will help you get more from your opportunity.  Share your thoughts on whether you are an introvert or extrovert, and the effects of this in Sunday School in the comments below, or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dwalker96sc

Thank you for your commitment to the values that make Sunday School W.O.R.K.!

Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

You’re Welcome.

Greetings!

First a reminder:  there will be no  leadership meeting this Wednesday night because of the massive Back to School outreach that our church is hosting.  Directors will find their packets on the front row with your name on the envelope.  Please check in with your teachers and distribute the guest information for follow up.

Please plan to attend the Back to School rally tonight (Wednesday 8/15 at 7pm).  It will be a fun and energetic service that targets students, but it will be a tremendous opportunity to connect with families who may not be associated with a church family of their own.  Look for folks you don’t know, and make a connection.  Don’t be afraid to invite someone to come back on Sunday for worship, or even to come check out your small group SS class.  An invitation in that context will communicate value, and express our desire for new folks to come and find a place to belong.

When you get a moment, check out this short article titled, “Are You a Welcoming Church”.  It has some great questions and points to consider.

http://www.churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/162295-are-you-a-welcoming-church.html

Several of the points raised are areas we are working to immediately improve on, others we need to, but haven’t gotten to yet.  Can you have an impact on any of these areas that will make us a more welcoming church?  What would you add to the list?

Thanks for your commitment to the values we share which make Sunday School W.O.R.K.!

Categories: Organized to Serve, Reaches Out to New People, Sunday School | Leave a comment

the importance of self evaluation for Sunday School leadership

Self evaluation is important.  It’s not always fun, but it’s important.  I try to read something several times a week, if not everyday, that calls and challenges me to self evaluate.  Obviously the greatest tool for self-evaluation is the Word of God, guided to our heart through the Holy Spirit.  Daily time in the scripture is a powerful thing.  But there are other resources that offer biblical values for self-evaluation that will help us.

We have a tool that will help us do self-evaluation for our overall Sunday School.  It’s the set of values we’ve agreed on which remind us how Sunday School W.O.R.K.S. :

Wants to grow

Organized to serve

Reaches out to new people

Keeps people connected

Study God’s Word together

Consistent evaluation to see if we are strong in each of these areas will lead to great things for our work in God’s Kingdom.  That’s an example of evaluation on a group level.  What about a personal level?

There are also a lot of brilliant and experienced leaders out there who write and share their wisdom for the rest of us to benefit from.

In his book Transforming Your Church with Ministry Teams, E. Stanley Ott tells us to consider these five qualities as vital characteristics for those who serve in church ministry and leadership.

Faith-Do they have a heart for God? Spiritual maturity is not always a quantitative aspect, as much as, it’s a growth issue. They may be new believers or lifelong disciples, but the key issue is their love for the Lord. Do they demonstrate a spirit that is open to God’s leading in their life? People of faith are open to God’s calling and will seriously consider a ministry invitation.

Love-Do they have a heart for people? When we have the same compassion for others as God does for us, we are open to opportunities to serve. We’re not talking “people persons” here-but rather a genuine love and concern for others that motivates us to serve. And since small group leaders serve the people in their group, this quality can be a real reflection of biblical community.

Willingness to Learn-Do they have a teachable spirit? My son hated to practice piano when he was taking lessons. We discovered his true interest was guitar. His interest in guitar made practice sessions more enjoyable due to his willingness to learn. Find people who are open to learning new skills and approaches in ministry because it matches their passion or felt need.

Availability-Do they have the time? We all know that if you want something done, you ask someone who’s already busy. They’ve proven their track record and are usually willing to take on one more project. But that’s also the fastest way to burn out a good servant. Look for people who are not currently serving or even being asked to serve so no one is left out or ignored.

Humility-Do they have a humble spirit? It has been said there is no “I” in team. People with humility understand that the Body of Christ works together in harmony with each person doing their part. No one part is better than the others-they’re all important and necessary to achieve success. Find someone with a humble spirit, and you’ll find a great team player.

These were listed in his book as characteristics to look for when selecting new leaders, but I believe current leaders would benefit from doing a little self-evaluation in regard to these things as well.  I know I did.  I hope this is a positive and encouraging tool that will bless, affirm, and challenge you.

Categories: Sunday School, Wants to Grow | Leave a comment

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