What is done in the offseason for most sports determines in part the success of the coming season. The conditioning, drills on the basic skills, and strengthening your body prior to the season beginning allows for the athletes to focus on the details and opponents during the season. While a strong offseason regiment does not guarantee victory, failing to prepare in the offseason all but assures failure.
The same is true when it comes to starting a new Sunday School class. What is done before the first Sunday opens the door for success. Here are seven preseason actions a leader can take in the weeks leading up to the start of a new Sunday School class. Only the first one is listed in priority order.
1. Secure prayer support.
- Invite a few people to serve as prayer support for you as you begin this new class. Ask them to pray for you as the leader, that God will provide the other leaders needed, and for the people yet to be reached by the class. Be sure to include another Sunday School teacher in this group who can mentor you through prayer.
2. Be clear on who the new class is for.
- While anyone may attend the class, having a clear picture of who you actually are trying to reach will help you plan and prepare. College students have different needs than their parents do; classes for these two groups should reflect those different needs.
3. Gather what you need.
- Gather markers, paper, and other resources needed by the class well in advance of the first Sunday. Even if someone else offered to gather everything you need, be sure to double-check to make sure everything you need is secured.
4. Prepare to lead a Bible study.
- Use the resources provided to create a first Sunday built around Bible study. Some groups fall short by focusing on organization and other items the first time the group meets. Remember, people are gathering for Bible study so you must make sure that you are prepared to do Bible study.
5. Distribute resources.
- Most classes will use some type of printed resource that will guide the Bible study. Take a copy of the resource to every potential new class member. This serves as a reminder of when the new class begins and gives you a natural way to invite people to the class. Be sure to give some brief information about how to use the resource.
6. Enlist a team.
- Starting a new Sunday School class is hard work. Having a team of others helping you in different roles can make a big difference. At the very least, enlist a person who can oversee some of the administrative details so you can focus on teaching and contacting people.
7. Conduct a pre-class event.
- An event prior to the first Sunday for potential class members can gives people the opportunity to get to know each other and gives you the opportunity to share your goals for the class. Doing so in this forum makes it possible for the first Sunday to be more like a “normal” class and can remove some of the awkwardness of the first Sunday.
You will have plenty of work to do after the class starts for it to succeed, but these actions will help you set a foundation upon which to build.
What are some other actions a leader of a new Sunday School class may need to consider taking prior to starting a new class? What have you done that helped you start a new class?