Rediscovering Momentum - Church of God of Prophecy

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Rediscovering Momentum - Church of God of Prophecy

Rediscovering Momentum: Pathways and Pitfalls

Exposing more people to a multi-dimensional ministry that introduces people to Jesus, draws

them into a life of following Him passionately, connects them with other “road runners for

Christ,” and mobilizes them to go public with their faith in Christ is a worthy goal. That’s

why promoting Sunday school through special events and high attendance days is important.

Some churches never say or do anything to lift their Sunday school ministry above the

background noise of people’s lives, and then wander why Sunday school languishes in the

basement of boredom. Other churches promote so many attendance-enhancing events their

announcements sound like a used car salesman hawking this month’s “greatest sale in our

history.”

Pathways

The drive to increase attendance is really just one phrase of a larger question: how does a

church build momentum? This is one of the most significant questions for every pastor and

Sunday school leader to consider. Some churches are so spiritually out of shape that raising

$500 or doing a four-week attendance program completely exhausts them. I know this feeling

well. I used to be able to play four games of pick-up basketball in a row in 95 degree

temperatures, but now I have a tough time getting up and down the court a few times without

hyper-ventilating. That’s because of atrophy. Unused muscles wither; lung capacity

diminishes; the whole system gets weaker and everything is harder.

Committing your church and Sunday school to spiritually stretching itself is the first task

of leaders who want to build momentum. For Sunday school leaders this means focusing on

vision, articulating the mission, doing the distinctly unglorious work of leading a team and

holding people accountable for excellence in ministry. Teachers have to redo their first

works: preparing meaningful lessons to feed their students’ souls; caring enough to show up

on time; and, being determined enough to pray, care and visit.

Momentum is all about increasing speed in the right direction. Going fast in the wrong

direction simply gets you lost more quickly. Decide that the attention-getters you plan will

be focused on reaching people and getting them involved in the discipleship pathway, not

breaking a twenty-year-old attendance record. Special days are focused events, rather like

conferences. They’re designed to help people break free of the gravity of laziness, boredom

and inertia so they will try new experiences and learn new things. The special event is always

an entryway, not a deadend and leaders need to know what the journey should look like.

Building momentum requires expanding your definition of growth. Growth is an increase

in size, a differentiation in structure and a change in form. Think of a baby of 2 months and a

young man at 21 years of age. There has definitely been an increase in size (17 pounds to 180

pounds); differentiation has occurred (brain cells have developed); and the form has changed

(the young man can walk and talk). Your growth event should have short term and mid-term

attendance goals but it should also have other growth markers: how many people committed

to Jesus 3 months later? How many new classes were started? How many students actually

got bolder in sharing Jesus with their family and friends? Increasing the number of people

who feel ownership of the mission and vision of your Sunday school is key in any growth

campaign because momentum results from both speed and mass. This kind of growth leads


not only to excitement for a day but significant changes in people’s lives as worship attenders

get plugged in for the first time, former participants come back, current members begin to

learn ministry skills and become involved as teacher assistants, class officers and visitation

leaders.

Pitfalls

Beware of conveying in subtle or overt ways that you are really interested in serving your

own organizational goals rather than serving people’s needs by ministering God’s grace to

them. You know you have this problem when the kids tell their friends, “I want you to come

to Sunday school with me so I can get a CD player!” This communicates that the church’s

motivation is some self-centered driving force, whether it’s the contest prize or the trophy for

setting a new record.

Hucksterism is deadly. It is trying to create spiritual momentum by the crassest kind of

marketing. If your Sunday school is trying to reproduce the magnetism of the Acts 2 church

(“…they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship…the Lord added to

the church daily…”—Acts 2:42, 47) by promising to shave the pastor’s head the Sunday

school has a spiritual disease that needs to be healed. Use contests and events wisely (one or

two a year) and keep the focus on quality ministry every Sunday.

Failing to mobilize the entire Sunday school destroys momentum and unattained goals

breeds discouragement. Leaders (pastor, Sunday school leadership) have to light the spark

and lead people to take action. Awakening the conscience of God’s people by emphasizing

your calling to help people meet Jesus, mature in Him and learn to minister with Him is

crucial to building momentum for Sunday school growth. Mobilizing is hard work because it

means taking the time to analyze your Sunday school and your community so your methods

match your aims and your context. Without mobilizing your entire Sunday school, you will

not gather enough resources (people, talents and finances) to accomplish the goal.

Building people who have come to Christ because of your Sunday school ministry, are

growing into vibrant followers of Christ and becoming gifted leaders who are serving in all

kinds of ministries is an exciting challenge. High attendance days are a valid part of a

balanced strategy for success. A few suggestive themes are listed below along with a couple

of helpful resources. These will get your creative juices flowing.

High Attendance Day Ideas

Friend Day Summer Olympics

Fabulous Fifties Banana Sunday (Be One of the Bunch)

Time Change Sunday Tel-A-Body

Fall Roundup Celebration Space Age Sunday

Surprise Guest Sunday Taxi Sunday

Resources

The Year-Round Church Event Book, by Elmer Towns and Stan Toler, Gospel Light, 1998.

The Sunday School Page website: www.sschool.com

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