March Madness! It’s exciting to watch the last two minutes of a close game. The commentators are always talking about how coaches and teams manage those last few minutes. This year’s tournament has had lots of close games. I caught the last few minutes of the Michigan State game; Tom Izzo, the Michigan State coach, managed in such a way that the last two minutes felt like hours. It gave his team a shot. Of course, my team, the Tennessee Volunteers, made sure that its fans were not stressed, but we have had our share of close games during the season.
Knowing what to do in those last few minutes of a game comes from experience and practice. Every basketball team practices and plans for those last few minutes and out of bounds plays with seconds left on the clock. The coaches study film on the opposing teams to understand their opponent’s tendencies when winning and losing is on the line. In other words, they plan.
What about clock management for Sunday School teachers? Do you have a plan for your Sunday School Class? Do you know your class’s tendencies? Have you prepared your class to make the most of the Sunday School hour?
Last Sunday, everyone dragged in to the class that I was attending. The class members just mingled, ate and caught up with each other. Finally, the teacher asked for prayer requests. It was thrilling to hear the praises and the concerns of the members of the class. Only 20 minutes was left for Bible Study time to discuss 15 very rich verses from the book of Philippians. The class could have used some clock management.
Good clock management starts with planning. On Sunday morning, several components of Sunday School need to be managed. Here’s the schedule that my class agreed to:
- 10 minutes: Fellowship
- 5 minutes: Announcements/Outreach and Ministry Assignments
- 10 minutes: Prayer Requests
- 35 minutes: Bible Study
Total time for the class was one hour. About once a month, I would write on the board the schedule as a reminder. Of course, a teacher has to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, but there is nothing wrong with having a plan. As a teacher, I desired a minimum of thirty-five minutes to do justice, allow for discussion, and be creative with the lesson. You might think the Fellowship time was long, but the class was at 8:00 and members had to drop their children off and many times wait for teachers to arrive.
Allan Taylor in Six Core Values for a Sunday School recommends a minimum of one-hour and fifteen minutes for Sunday School. 15 minutes is spent in Care Groups, where prayer requests, announcements, and ministry takes place. 15 minutes allowed for Outreach, led by the Outreach leader of the class. 45 minutes is reserved for teaching the lesson.
Many of the smaller churches I visit as State Sunday School Director, only have 45 minutes for Sunday School. These churches certainly need a plan.
It is my opinion that people come to Sunday School for fellowship but they expect Bible Study. Without a plan and communication of that plan, the Bible Study time can be swallowed up by the Fellowship and Prayer time. I would encourage you to have a plan that makes the Bible Study time the priority.