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Remember, as goes the Sunday School, so goes the church! Be sure to provide training for your teachers and workers in readiness for the new year!

New Sunday School Year    
How to Effectively Kickoff a New Sunday School Year

     Kicking off a new Sunday School year can be an exciting event in the life of a church.  Credibility and importance are given to promotion/advancement for both children and adults, and the kickoff (formerly Sunday School launch) marks the significance of Sunday School as the major strategy for souls.  Kickoff dates will vary but usually occurs the week prior to annual promotion. More than any other Sunday School event, the kickoff will set the tone for the entire Sunday School year.

Select a Theme
     No matter what event a church uses to kickoff Sunday School, nothing sets the tone of the Sunday School year like a strong theme.  Examples of themes that churches have used include:  “Reaping the Harvest”, “Kick it Up a Notch”, “Light the Fire”, “Everyone a Lighthouse” and “For Such a Time is This.”  The theme should be prominently displayed throughout the church and should be promoted in all church publications, with articles written by the pastor and staff (if a church is large enough to have multiple staff positions), posters, etc. for at least two months prior to the launch date.  In addition, mail-outs, personal letters, or other types of correspondence can and should be used to communicate with church members about the upcoming event.  Some churches even have special songs written about the theme.

Support Sunday School with a Commissioning Service
     One kickoff event in particular can be the morning worship service.  Of special significance, the pastor, who is the main Sunday School leader in the church, should lead a very meaningful commissioning service.  Worship can begin with high energy music, testimonies from people whose lives have been saved as a direct result of Sunday School ministry, and a dramatic or responsive reading that challenges ministry leaders to fulfill the Lord’s calling on their lives.  You may want to highlight last year’s goals and accomplishments as well.  These highlights should be celebratory and should include the number of people enrolled, the number of people won to Christ, new leaders developed, etc.  The pastor, as the main Sunday School leader in the church, should deliver a powerful message, focusing on the new year, highlighting vision, goals and plans.  The focal point of the service should be a time of prayer and commissioning, where members can lay hands on workers.

Celebrate Accomplishments at a Sunday School Banquet
     Another event can be a Sunday School banquet.  Invitations should go to all church members, inviting them to this event.  Here, exciting, high energy music and moving testimonies should be incorporated.  This is a time of celebration of what the Lord has done in the past year, including, but not limited to — number of people enrolled, won to Christ, new leaders developed, new classes started, leaders trained, etc.  In addition, a challenging message that goes into detail about Sunday School vision, goals, and plans for the year should be delivered by the pastor.  Concluding the event should be the opportunity for Sunday School workers and FAITH team members to sign their commitment cards and place them at the foot of the altar/platform. 

Provide Leadership Training
     Leadership training should also be part of the kickoff event weekend, if this has not happened prior to the new year.  This is a time when current leaders can be reminded of your church’s purpose of Sunday School as strategy and to encourage them to move beyond anything that limit the effectiveness of your church’s Sunday School ministry.  This is also a time when strategic plans for the new year can be unveiled.  Your training can be either a Friday-Saturday retreat, a Saturday morning training or a Sunday afternoon training.

     The new Sunday School year can be the largest event in your church.  The best case scenario is to do all three things as part of the launch weekend.  A suggested schedule is:

bullet Friday night – Sunday School Banquet;
bullet Saturday morning – Sunday School Leadership Training;
bullet Sunday morning – Sunday School Leadership Commissioning Service. 

     In the above paragraphs, some of the same celebrations were listed for both the banquet and the worship service.  When a church chooses to use multiple events for the launch weekend, they should be careful to not repeat, in detail, the same information, but it should still be highlighted.  The banquet is the best place for celebrations of accomplishments to be shared in detail, while the Sunday morning Commissioning Service is the best place for the accomplishments to be highlighted.

     Regardless of the type of event a churches utilizes to kickoff the Sunday School year, the entire church should be involved in the event.  Church size and type should never hamper this special time of year.



Adapted from an article on the Lifeway Christian Resources Web page. © 2001-2003   LifeWay Christian Resources

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