12 Sunday School Rules For Success!

Discover what it takes to make your Sunday School thrive.

12 Sunday School Rules For Success!

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Where do you want your Sunday School to get to? If you are not sure, or you could use some fresh ideas, here are 12 Sunday School rules for success.

These guidelines will help flesh out where you’re going, provide tools to help you get there, and give plenty of encouragement along the way.

Some of these rules you can apply today, while others will take a bit longer.

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“If you never did you should. These things are fun. And fun is good.”  — Dr. Seuss

2. Fun Is Mandatory

Imagine this scenario: you walk into class dressed up as Moses carrying a pool noodle for a staff. As you enter, an epic movie soundtrack plays...the crowd goes wild!

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to be silly? 

For Sunday School teachers, fun is a choice you make to help your kids grasp the lesson - because kids learn through play.

Without overthinking it, write down 3 things you could do right now to inject a healthy dose of fun into your class.

Now that you’ve got a list in hand, go forth and have some fun!

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“Change your location and you just may change yourself.”  —Eric Weiner

3. Where you learn matters

It’s said that, when choosing a home, the 3 most important factors to consider are location, location and location. Where you’re planted shapes how you’ll grow.

When a child steps into your classroom, what do they experience? Are they excited? Are they curious? Are they dying to ask you what’s going to happen in the lesson?

Your classroom is your first impression. 

  • Make it welcoming - your classroom should feel like home. 
  • Make it an experience - provide things to touch, taste and smell.
  • Make it exciting - if kids don’t want to leave, they’re going to learn.

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“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name

And they’re always glad you came.”  — Cheers Theme Song

4. We Are Family

Sunday School is not a place where kids get dropped off, it is a place where they belong. This means that each child should be loved, welcomed and known by name.

If you view Sunday School as free babysitting or something you have to do because no one else will, everything in your class will reflect it – from the attitude you carry in with you, to your tone of voice during disruptions.

But if you believe Sunday School is family, everything changes.

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“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” — Gail Devers (Olympic Champion)

5. Never Ever Give Up

If you’re doing Sunday School right, it will be difficult. Your patience will be tested, your creativity will be stretched, and you will question if you have what it takes to go on. 

Never ever give up. Your Sunday School’s richest rewards are just on the other side of the obstacle you face. However, it's only by determination that will make this discovery.

Not giving up is a choice only you can make.

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“It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity.” — George MacDonald

6. Numbers Don't Equal Success

It feels good to say that the number of kids in our class is growing. But bigger doesn’t always mean better. Sometimes more is just more.

Chasing numbers is a trap that can lead to pride, exhaustion and disappointment. Size is not the same as significance.

If you are going to count, count things that matter.

  • How much of your lesson came from time spent in the Bible?
  • How many of your kids' parents do you know by name?
  • How often do you pray for your kids, families and volunteers?

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“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”  — Babe Ruth

7. A Good Team Is Better Than A Handful Of Superstars

Sunday School is a team sport. No one person is enough to make it successful, but putting everything on one person’s shoulders is a game plan for failure.

The very best Sunday School leader is like a coach. They welcome all who contribute, build them up, and invest in their success.

Spend time praying over your Sunday School team, search out new ways to invest in them, and never stop praying that God would bring fresh talent.

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“People think stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around...”  

— Terry Pratchett

8. Don't Skimp On The Stories

Words by themselves carry a definition, but when you put them together, they tell a story. Even the smallest of these stories can deliver BIG truth.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall 

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall 

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men 

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

The point? Some falls are so bad, no one but God can set things right. Just ask Adam and Eve.

When you teach kids, or anyone else, never forget the power of a good story - they are the language of learning.

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“Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.” 

 — Aristotle

9. Clarity Is Key

If you're confused by your message, what chance do your kids stand? One big idea, clearly presented, is the standard a of good Sunday School teaching. 

Prepare for your lesson by answering this question: “If I had to present my entire teaching in one simple thought, what would I say?” 

If you're having trouble with that question, here are a few more that will point you in the right direction:    

  1. What is the big problem this lesson helps us to solve? 
  2. What step of faith is this lesson asking us to take? 
  3. How does this lesson draw us closer to God?

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“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”  —Edward de Bono

10. Think Outside The Box

It is a mistake to think that creativity only belongs to artists and actors. Creativity is simply the courage to look at things differently and try something new.

Question: What gets wetter and wetter the more it dries?

Answer: A towel

Looking at things differently opens your eyes to solutions that have been right in front of you the whole time. A successful Sunday School is constantly looking for ways to experiment, innovate and change.

Each generation of kids is unique and you must find new ways to connect with them. Creativity is how you make the connection.

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“If you are burning the candle at both ends you’re not as bright as you think.”  —Rick Warren

11. Without Balance, You’ll Burn Out

Are you spending more time in the classroom than in the sanctuary? If so, then you've forgotten that worshipping God is your first and most important act of service.

Your Sunday School won't collapse if you take a weekend off and go to church.

A great teacher must be taught, themselves. A good leader must be led. If you are always giving out, but never taking in, there will come a breaking point. 

It may be true that your Sunday School doesn't have enough volunteers, but if you don't follow this Sunday School rule, they’ll have one less.

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12. Seek Out Help

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“Don’t be shy about asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it only means you’re wise.”  — Unknown

Every Sunday School application should come with a disclaimer: Only sign this form if you like a good challenge. Awkward moments, bored kids, and deep discouragement - you’ll face them all.

But don’t lose heart, with the right help, you’ll be astounded by what you can overcome. Here are two helps that make a world of difference:

  1. The right mentor - Reach out to another Sunday School teacher, it’s surprising what you can learn over a cup of coffee.
  2. The right tools - Search out Sunday School resources that inspire your kids and help you get where you want to go. Sharefaith Kids is a great place to begin.

Want to dive deeper into these principles? Check out the 12 Rules of Sunday School Success webinar. We’ve bundled the webinar workbook, ebook and slideshow into a FREE download that will help you get the most out of this presentation.

Watch The Webinar