How do you start? It's about asking questions!
People sometimes ask, “How do you get buy-in from your church to start a new Sunday School class?”. I interpret the phrase ‘buy-in’ to mean ‘support’. I understand ‘support’ as ‘participation’. For the purpose of this blog post, I will answer the question from the perspective of “How do you get people to attend a new Sunday School class?”.
What do people need?
Sometimes, instead of taking time to identify needs, church leaders start new classes based on an attraction model. We find what we believe to be a meaningful topic. We advertise it. We wait for people to come. We wonder why classes work sometimes and not others. If we really look, we will probably find that when they work, we found something people really needed.
The guesswork can be taken out of planning when we take the time to engage in conversation. I have found that conversations with the pastor, church members, guests, and potential leaders make the difference. These conversations can shape the creation of classes that will be well received and well attended.
What are your goals?
Conversation with the pastor should focus on vision and goals for growing disciples. What topics will stretch the participants in their faith formation? Is there a need for multi-generational classes or classes that focus on specific seasons of life? How does the pastor believe that stronger community can be built? What is the community around the church seeking? What spaces and resources are available to launch new classes?
Talking with church members and guests can focus on their unmet faith formation needs. Are they wanting to learn more about the Bible? Are they seeking Christian community? Are they looking for ways to live out their faith? Do they desire experiences for and with their young children? Are they best served by short term or long-term classes? Do they prefer videos, lectures, discussion, or a service-based format? Have they talked with others that have similar needs?
Next, chatting with potential class leaders about possible class offerings can inspire volunteers to champion the cause. When one or more leaders ‘buy-in’ to the idea, they will often carry the torch to implementation if given space and resources.
The process doesn’t end here as it is vital to continue conversation with the class leaders, participants, and the pastor to make adjustments. Is the space adequate? Are the teaching resources helpful? Is there additional ideas that have grown from this initial effort? Is there people that can share testimony with others regarding their experiences? Are there others that can be invited to participate?
So, how do you get buy-in from your church to start a new Sunday School class? By asking stakeholders lots of questions and listening to their needs. When a new Sunday School class meets those needs, they not only buy-in – they own it!