Should a Sunday School have some type of organization or grading?
Most will readily agree there definitely should be for preschoolers, children and students. It is simply not practical to think a 3-year-old and an 8th grader should be learners in the same group. But what about adults?
I have discovered most church leaders organize their adult Sunday Schools in one of three ways:
1. By age (even if somewhat loosely)
2. By affinity (young adults, single adults, parents of children, parents of teens, empty nesters, etc.)
3. Free for all — people go to the group of their choice
In my 33 years of leadership in Sunday Schools, I fully realize no one can be made to attend a certain group. Joining a group is always at the discretion of the attender. However, organizing a Sunday School can make the groups more inviting and encouraging for people to join.
Keep in mind the purpose: Sunday School exists as an organization of open groups, engaged in Bible study with the purpose of making disciples. Yet we also know that discipleship happens best in the context of relationships. Church leaders want relationships to develop within the group. That’s the starting point.
For relationships to develop, there must be some connection point for people. Most of the time, that connection point is a commonality among the members. That commonality may be age, affinity or common interest.
Careful thought should be given to the way a Sunday School is organized. That alone could make the difference between a stagnant or growing Sunday School.
Bruce Raley is director of Church Partnerships with Lifeway Christian Resources. A native of Arkansas, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and traveling with Donna.