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FIRST-PERSON: Kicking off a new year in Sunday school


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Soon, football stadiums will again be filled with the screams of enthusiastic fans, the thudding pads of eager players, the flips of energetic cheerleaders and the fight songs of battling bands. In churches far and wide, this time of year is also marked by the kickoff of a new “season” of Sunday School.

Here are some tips for giving your Sunday School season a great opening kickoff:

— Conduct a Sunday School Kickoff event. Do you remember Sunday School Launch Weeks? Well, Sunday School Kickoff is just a fresh name for the same idea. Need some tips? Check out the free download of the book “The Five Step Formula for Sunday School Growth” (available on LifeWay’s website through http://tinyurl.com/mzk5df). You’ll find ideas for a great event at the end of the book. Feel free to reproduce the book and consider including it in a worker’s notebook, adding additional material or creating your own cover.

— Have a Sunday School faculty commissioning service. This can be an entire service during which you read names and places of service for each Sunday School director and teacher, or it can be a group recognition as part of your morning worship service. As a minimum, you could ask faculty to come to the front or stand while the pastor leads a prayer of dedication. A nice touch would be an insert in the bulletin that lists each leader by department or class, beginning with babies and going through senior adults. This insert can also draw attention to vacancies should you want to advertise that service opportunity.

— Identify and assign all associate members to an adult department or class. The new Sunday School year is the best time to make sure every worker in the preschool, children and student divisions is assigned to an adult group. If you’ve had good intentions to do this in the past, but just haven’t gotten around to it, this is the time to get it done.

Every adult group should receive a list of the associate members assigned to it. These members-in-service should be assigned to the very best group leader(s) in each class. Mount a poster in the adult classroom with the names of associate members and where they serve; digital cameras make it easy to add photos.

— Schedule a party for every adult group. Every adult department or class should schedule a party the first month of your new Sunday School year. Be sure to invite your associate members. Make a special effort to call every member and recent visitor on the roll.

Provide nametags and decide on a random fact — hometown, favorite sports team, year they joined the church, hobby, etc. — to ask people to write, along with their names, on the tag. Change the random fact at each future party. You’ll be surprised at the connections people make with one another.

— Distribute Sunday School literature to inactive and prospective members. This is a great excuse to make an at-the-door visit to inactive members and visitors. Just let them know you’re starting a new year and introduce them to the material you’re studying. Invite them to be a part of the group; you may be amazed at the results.

The bottom line is don’t let this kickoff season pass you by. There are excellent opportunities at the start of the Sunday School year to get the season off to a great start.
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David Francis is director of Sunday School at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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  • David Francis