Ten Excuses to Start New Classes, Part 2

by David Francis on Saturday, January 13, 2007

As I stated in part 1 of this article, just about any "excuse" to start a new Sunday school class is worth trying. When Christians get together to study God's Word with like-minded people, good things can happen. As you introduce new opportunities for believers to join school classes, you show them that you have their interests at heart. And in return they may become more likely to invite others to come along, too.

Here are the remaining five ideas ... plus a bonus!

6. A "No Teacher" class

What? How would you do that? By using a curriculum resource like LifeWay's MasterWork. This Bible study series, based on books by popular Christian authors, includes only one book for both learners and leaders. Class members can take turns leading using the discussion-based leadership plan found at the end of each weekly lesson. In such a class, it would be wise to designate one person as the class "shepherd," guiding the study plan and helping leaders as necessary.

7. A college class

Recently while dialoging with a group of pastors in Princeton, Kentucky, one pastor shared that he had started a college class. In a small town. In a church with an attendance of about 70. I said, in jest, "You can't start a college class in that kind of setting." But he did! And he has 10 to 12 kids attending each week. LifeWay's Collegiate Bible study materials are perfect for starting such a class.

8. A special needs class

Churches are rediscovering the joy of serving the needs of adults and children with physical and developmental challenges. For many years, LifeWay has published Access, a Bible study resource for teaching special-needs adults. We also publish a resource for special needs children in grades 1 through 6, Special Buddies. LifeWay's VBS includes materials for special needs kids, too. One of the big surprises reported by churches who begin such a ministry is how many people are willing to help. They may not want to teach a big class, but they are eager to help out in a special needs setting.

9. A "Transition Year" class

Kindergarten and sixth grade are two of the toughest years for kids to navigate. Even churches struggle with where to place these students. In some churches Kindergarten is in the preschool division; in others it is in the children's division. In some churches, especially in communities where the schools operate middle schools, sixth graders are in the youth division and often grouped with 7th and 8th graders. In other churches they are in the children's division, and often grouped with 4th and/or 5th graders. What to do? Start a class just for them!

10. An off-campus, not-on-Sunday class

You mean you can have a Sunday school class that doesn't meet on Sunday? Of course you can! Funny thing is, the term Sunday school has such a strong "brand identity," you can even call it a Sunday school class! Clyde Kakiuchi, Sunday school Director at the Hawaii-Pacific Baptist Convention, knows a pastor in Saipan who holds Bible study classes every night for different groups of factory workers after they end their nighttime shifts. Bruce Raley, who leads LifeWay's work with Christian Educators, shared about a nurse who started a class that met at 10:00 p.m. each Saturday night, an hour before the 11-7 shift. Thirty people participated!


After we published the first half of this article, we received a reply from the missions chairperson of a Baptist church in New Jersey. She wanted to share how her church is approaching Sunday school from a similar perspective:

Our church has a small adult Sunday school, primarily in two age groups: 20's, 30's and 40's, and 50's and up. We recently changed things by offering two or three simultaneous Sunday school electives and are enjoying success and additional people are coming out to the classes.

One we did recently was on the names of God, and it was excellent. We are offering our first-ever Sunday school class on the book Hope for Children in Poverty this January and February. We advertised it as "Not Your Typical Sunday school Class" because we are asking for donations to cover the cost of the books, and for people to be willing to read ahead of each class. We hope to follow up with classes on other social justice issues.

These electives have had a bonus effect of bring together different adults from each of the first two groups, and bringing in new adults. Of course, electives can be done on many topics, and should be Scripturally sound.

Maybe you can think of some more "excuses" for starting new classes.

David Francis is LifeWay's director of Sunday School. His latest book is Extreme Sunday School Challenge. David has previously served as Minister of Education at First Baptist Church, Garland, Texas, and is involved in children's ministry with his wife, Vickie.

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