Last night, I spoke to the Sunday School leaders of adult classes at First Baptist Church of Ardmore, Oklahoma. The church has weekly leadership meetings for their adult Sunday School leaders… and people attend! Gene Thompson is the Minister of Education at the church and every Wednesday evening, he shares some information and some teaching suggestions to help his leaders teach that week’s Bible study.
Gene is one of the few education ministers I know that has managed to continue a weekly leadership meeting. Although his leaders are well trained, he provides two things each week that they need: They want content, and they want fellowship. I could tell as I ate with his leaders that they have great comaraderie, and I also found his leaders to be engaged and participatory.
Gene asked me to come by last night and share some insight from David Francis’ book, Great Expectations. I went a little past my allotted time, but the dialogue with the leaders was engaging and direct. It was refreshing.
In case you are unfamiliar with the book, here are the three expectations that David Francis emphasizes:
- Expect new people in Bible study every week;
- Expect people to say “yes”;
- Expect classes to begin new groups.
My experience in Sunday School, as a dad, as an employee, and as a husband has been that people live up to what is expected of them! In way too many of our churches, our groups, and our families; we have set the bar of expectation far too low!
As a word of encouragement, people do not know what is expected of them until we tell them. If we want our groups to start new groups, we need to tell them of this expectation, and then periodically ask them how it is coming.
Setting deadlines communicates expectation!
Rather than asking a group to begin a new group some time this year, put a target date in front of the group. Compare the differences:
“One of the purposes of your group is to start a new group.”
“Could you guys begin a new group by September 1?”
Which statement best communicates what is expected? The moment I put something on my calendar and publicly commit to it, it has become more than just an idea… it has become an expectation, a commitment. I can be held accountable for my decision.
In all honesty, I think that many times we shrink back from being specific about our expectations because once we set an expectation out there, it can be measured. The modern day church has a fear of failure complex! If we keep the expectations vague, then we have no risk of failure. We also have no way to measure success!
What are some expectations that you can ask of your leaders that would improve your small group ministry and help it develop disciples?