What Is a Healthy Sunday School?

The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog references something I have been reading lately. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book, magazine article or blog post I have or am reading.


For churches that have a Sunday School ministry, it should never be an afterthought. I have been in a number of churches with good Sunday School and bad Sunday School and I am sure everyone reading this blog post has had the same experience.

I have been doing a fair amount of reading and research the last few months on Sunday School, because I am now serving at a church without any such arm of ministry. We have a good small group ministry (called 1A – short for “one another” groups), but our church leaders are beginning to have more conversations and more inquiries about whether we will ever add a Sunday School program.

Thus, I have wanted to read books on successful Sunday School(s), read what churches are doing for this kind of ministry, etc.

And I have learned a number of lessons during this time of investigation. One primary lesson has been this: no church does it the same way and there is not a perfect model of Sunday School that will work in every church.

However, there does seem to be some typical characteristics that are common among the healthy Sunday School ministries and they are as follows:

Healthy Sunday Schools equip their leaders. They work hard at making sure their leaders are developing their own teaching skills (e.g., sending them to conferences or seminars, giving them “down time” to prepare and plan for upcoming lessons, etc.).

Healthy Sunday Schools are held accountable to their pastoral leadership. Sunday School leaders are not left on their own island without receiving consistent prayer, support and accountability from their church’s elders, pastors or deacons.

Healthy Sunday Schools provide their teachers and volunteers with the supplies and tools they need. In other words, if a teacher needs a certain curriculum, a church supplies it. If a volunteer needs a ream of blue paper, a church supplies it.

Healthy Sunday Schools change their leadership when it is necessary or appropriate. If someone is getting burnt out or needs to take some time off to refresh themselves or other teachers are able to step into new roles, leadership changes, additions or subtractions are pursued.

Healthy Sunday Schools don’t say, “But, this is the way we have always done things.” They evaluate and re-evaluate and then re-evaluate how and when and why and where they are doing things. And they do so – at the very least – annually – to make sure they are most effective and biblical in all they are doing.

If you have suggestions for a healthy Sunday School model in your church, I would love to look at it. Give me your church’s name and I will learn all I can from it.


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