The Sunday School Challenge – Step 3

Step 3: Cast the Vision

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” (Quote: Lewis Carroll) More often than not, too many churches exist on 52 dis-connected Sunday’s every year. Even though each week seems similar to the week before, there is no over-arching purpose or direction. In one sense, we are predictable. In another, we aren’t going anywhere. 18“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

Vision – “the act or power of seeing or imagination” (Definition by Merriam-Webster) The vast majority of Pastor’s have a plan for what he will preach on any given Sunday. Less often, but in most churches, there is a plan of worship. We know what songs we are singing, when the offering will be taken up and which upcoming events are happening the following week. Most Sunday School teachers prepare a specific lesson for each Sunday. Some will even have a calendar of events and functions just for that class. Dis-Connected.

As Pastor, how do you plan to lead your church and your Sunday School to accomplish specific objectives to further God’s Kingdom? How will you lead your church to work together to accomplish the Great Commission? How will you lead your Sunday School to Reach and Enroll New People, Teach Toward Changed Lives and Involve Members in Ongoing Ministry?

The congregation needs to hear from your heart. They need to know “why” they should reach and enroll new people.  Why should they teach for life change? Why should they get involved in the ongoing ministry of the Sunday School and church? What will it look like when they reach and enroll new people; teach toward life change; and be involved in ongoing ministry? How will they accomplish these great objectives?

As Pastor, how will you help them to develop goals and action plans that move them towards accomplishing these objectives? Who is going to encourage them, equip them and lead them to carry out these plans?

Pastor, you are critical to the future of your Sunday School. They need to know that you value them and their efforts. They need to know that you are willing to support them whether it is a success or a complete failure. They need you to lead them forward.

Jesus described Himself as a shepherd and we are His sheep. You are the shepherd of the flock God has entrusted to you. Where are you leading them and how will you know when you have arrived?

Below are links to some great helps for you as you seek to develop a vision “message” as you lead your church to prepare for the Sunday School Challenge.

The Sunday School Challenge – Step 2

Step 2: Enlist

Pastor, your role is crucial to the success of the Sunday School Challenge. Here are a few of the responsibilities you will need to accept:

  • Recruit a Sunday School Champion (or Champions).You will need one Sunday School Champion for each 4 or 5 classes or small groups including Children, Youth and Adult classes. They need to be the best you can find. See the job description below. Don’t recruit from the pulpit. Personally ask them to pray and accept the role you are asking them to take.
  • Work to prepare the church, Sunday School Champion(s), Teachers and other class leaders for The Challenge.
  • Create buy-in from leaders and members.
  • Cast the vision for the purpose and reason for the campaign (The Challenge) from the pulpit, in meetings and in one-on-one interactions.
  • Encourage leaders and members from the pulpit, in meetings and in one-on-one interactions. The Pastor should personally visit as many classes as possible each Sunday (or whenever they meet), to encourage them prior to and during The Challenge.
  • Celebrate publicly what God has done during The Challenge and affirm and/or reward the achievements of each class.

When you enlist your Sunday School Champion (or Champions), these will be their key responsibilities:

  • Meet with Pastor to agree upon the objectives and the strategy to achieve them.
  • Assist each class to set specific goals and develop realistic plans to achieve those goals.
  • Monitor progress of each class. Report to the Pastor weekly the progress of each class involved.
  • Encourage faithfulness to The Challenge. (NOTE: not every class will participate fully. Work with those who are willing and encourage those who are on the fence).
  • Keep the focus on achieving the objectives. (Reach and enroll new people, Teach toward life-change, and Involve members in ongoing ministry). Remind them that every class can improve.
  • Help modify existing plans for those classes who are struggling.

Below are a few articles, blogs or websites that have great and relevant information for you in recruiting your Sunday School Champion(s). Recommended articles are in bold.

Additional Websites that help:

The Sunday School Challenge – Step 1

Step 1: Pray

Two things I know. First, God has a plan for your church and your community. Secondly, God wants to use you in accomplishing His plan in your church and in your community. The book by Henry Blackaby entitled, Experiencing God, taught us to “find where God is working and join Him”. One of the most important aspects of the Sunday School Challenge is PRAYER.

Like you, I believe in the value and impact of Sunday School.  Your participation in the Sunday School Challenge can be a great foundation to move your church toward a healthy, growing Sunday School.

(If you are not yet a part of the Sunday School Challenge, you need to join us. Just go to to find out more).

The primary objectives for the Sunday School Challenge are to 1) Reach & Enroll New People, 2) Teach Toward Life-Change and 3) Involve Members in Ongoing Ministry.  These goals begin through a commitment to prayer.  This campaign is built on prayer and a surrender to God’s leading.  Prayer efforts must be thoughtful and intentional for all involved.

To help you lead others in this heartfelt discipline, we have gathered resources for Step 1—Prayer:

  • PRAYER BOOT CAMP, developed by Claude King, based upon War Room’s “The Battle Plan for Prayer” is a flexible prayer training experience introducing the basics of prayer and weapons of our spiritual warfare. It is learning to pray by praying together. (Free download)
  • CONSECRATE THE PEOPLE, by Claude King; an 8-day devotional guide to help Christian individuals, churches, and groups prepare themselves for a sacred assembly before God—a time to renew covenant commitments to the Lord. Download Here.
  • FRESH ENCOUNTER, by Henry Blackaby and Claude King, is a 28-day devotional guide which emphasizes “Seeking God Together for Revival in the Land.”  This guide leads you to seek the kind of relationship with God through which He can revive you and use you for revival and awakening.  Fresh Encounter Guides may be purchased for $3.99 each at
  • COME TO THE LORD’S TABLE, from Claude King, is a 28-day devotional guide is a simple tool focused on church renewal, a daily guide to prepare mind, heart and life for meeting at the Lord’s table. Special attention is given to the preparation of hearts, and renewal of our covenant with the Lord in a worthy manner.  Cost is $6.99 each.

If you have scheduled your churches’ dates for the Sunday School Challenge, please let us know. We are available to assist you in any way we can. We are praying, expectantly, for His blessings in your church.

Sean Keith is the Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Check out other resources at

The Sunday School Challenge – Overview

Over the last three or four decades, Sunday School Enrollment and Sunday School Attendance have steadily and consistently declined. There were a few bumps of growth, but the trend line has been heading down. Over the last several years God has challenged me to try and simplify what the average church needs to do to move toward a healthy, growing Sunday School. As I understand it, the average church in Louisiana has a worship attendance around 67. With the help of a focus group of Pastors, Directors of Mission, other staff and some lay leaders, we have developed the Sunday School Challenge. (You can find and download resources that will explain how your Church can participate in the Sunday School Challenge at

The goal of the Sunday School Challenge is to provide the Pastor and Sunday School Champions a tool to equip teachers and other leaders to develop a healthy, growing Sunday School class or Small Group. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (HCSB)

The Pastor can lead his congregation to accomplish three primary objectives through the Sunday School Challenge. They are: Reach and Enroll New People, Teach Toward Changed Lives, and Involve Members in Ongoing Ministry. The Sunday School Challenge seeks to engage every teacher/leader of every class to set a minimum of 3 goals during The Challenge. After setting goals, each class will develop a plan to accomplish the goals they have established with the help of their Sunday School Champion.

The Secret to a successful campaign is the Sunday School Champion(s). These wonderful leaders in your church will work with the Pastor to influence and encourage others to join God in accomplishing the three objectives listed above. Check out the Sunday School Challenge Guide for more information about the Sunday School Champion(s).

At the conclusion of The Challenge, the Pastor, in conjunction with the Sunday School Champion(s) will recognize and/or give rewards to the classes who have achieved their goals. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6 (CSB Bible) This verse skillfully reminds us that God gives the growth. Nonetheless, Paul planted and Apollos watered. We are to do our part. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without meJohn 15:5 (CSB Bible) This gentle reminder should encourage us to be faithful and obedient to do and accomplish what God desires.

We celebrate what God has done and we reward and affirm those who worked toward accomplishing the objectives God has given us.

Honestly, there is nothing new in the Sunday School Challenge. Unfortunately, too many of our churches are not practicing these clear and effective principles in building a healthy, growing Sunday School. Why not lead your church to participate in the Sunday School Challenge?

Head to the website now and download your guide to the Sunday School Challenge. Let us know when you plan to lead your church in moving toward a healthy, growing Sunday School.

Sean Keith is the Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. More resources can be found at

ReGroup Conference Resources

Baptists are good at talking about what we should do and how to do it, but do you remember WHY you do what you do? We exist to glorify God. We glorify God when we make disciples. We make disciples by sharing the gospel with the lost, developing biblical community, helping believers to mature spiritually and equipping believers to live missionally.

Connect 1

  1. Equip
    In an historic partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources, a six-week Bible study of the Gospel will be available in the Bible Studies for Life curriculum – Unvanished Truth.The six-week Bible study series of the Gospel includes the following studies:

    • One Great Creator (Psalm 33: 6-15; Colossians 1:15-17)
    • One Great Purpose (Isaiah 43:1-7)
    • One Great Problem (Romans 3:9-23)
    • One Great Savior (Romans 5:6-11)
    • Our Response (Romans 10:1-12)
    • Our Task (2 Timothy 2:1-10)
  2. Engage
    Church members are challenged in the second phase of Connect>1 to share the Gospel. As part of Harvest, church members are encouraged to take the 3151 Challenge. The 3151 Challenge is a simple personal evangelism plan that includes:3 – Pray for three lost friends daily
    1 – Learn a Gospel presentation
    5 – Invite five friends to their small group
    1 – Share the Gospel with at least one person
  3. Celebrate
    We encourage you to begin the Conect1 plan as a part of Harvest.

Let’s P.R.A.Y. for the Harvest
(How to lead someone to follow Christ)

The One on One: Evangelism Made Simple kit is a six-session personal evangelism study designed to help introverts and extroverts share the Gospel:

  1. The PRAY Gospel Presentation
  2. Using Your Personal Testimony and Sharing it on
  3. Using a Gospel Tract and a Marked New Testament
  4. The Role of the Holy Spirit in Evangelism
  5. Building Authentic Relationships with Lost People
  6. Praying Your Friends and Family to Christ

Want to learn more about One on One? Check out the details, learn about the authors and find out each session by downloading the kit brochure.

Project 3151 is designed to help promote evangelism through groups. Download the brochure below.

How to Baptize More People at Your Church 

People in the water being baptized serves as a highlight and significant spiritual marker in the life of an individual and a church. Recently, I polled a few of our highest baptizing church plants in Louisiana and found that they have 5 intentional practices that every church can do to increase baptisms:

1. Pray & Share the Gospel

If you don’t have anybody to baptize, you need to ask the question, “Are we communicating the gospel clearly to our community?” It may be that you are in a hard soil area and cultivation will take time. That’s fine. But the promise of the word of God is to produce results (Isaiah 55:11). God’s working in all our communities to bring people to himself (1 Corinthians 5:19-21). As we pray and share, planting seeds in our communities, eventually we can expect a harvest (Psalm 126:6).  If you need some ideas, see my article Proven Ways to Cultivate Relationships and Plant Seeds in Your Community.

2. Keep a current list of potential candidates

Write down the names of people in your fellowship that you’re not sure of their relation to Christ and/or if they’ve followed the Lord through believer’s baptism. Share it with core leaders and ask them to pray. Plan on systematically talking with them about making this important step in their faith journey. Also, teach parents how to look for signs of God’s work in the lives of their children and when they begin to respond, put them on the list and begin to pray for them.

3. Put it on the church calendar

As you do calendar planning, go ahead and put at least two dates for baptisms on the calendar. Announce these regularly. Expect to have candidates. Pray and share the Gospel. Work the list.

4. Get info out about Believer’s Baptism

Teach on it regularly. Produce a brochure and keep it in a well trafficked area in your building and on your website. I’ve also heard of churches doing brief Informational meetings about baptism before and after church. Don’t assume people realize the importance and biblical reasons for baptism.  Here’s a sample brochure that my current church has utilized.

5. Make it a celebration

Baptism is an opportunity to celebrate God’s work in the heart of human being. Jesus died so that work could be done! A person has left the kingdom of darkness and entered the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13)! Even the angels in heaven throw a party when this happens (Luke 15:10)!. Let’s celebrate! Make it a big deal. Send out invitations, post pics, share videos! We throw parties for much less, so a thing that makes heaven party and busts people out of the kingdom of darkness should instigate a celebration!

An evangelistic culture must be cultivated & maintained with intentionality. We have a command from Jesus to go & baptize (Matthew 28:18-20). We have so many people without a relationship with Christ. Get intentional about moving people to understand & respond to the Gospel & celebrate it through baptism.