So, You Were Asked to be the Sunday School Superintendent!

I received an e-mail from someone who was appointed to be the Sunday School Superintendent in his church.  He asked for help as he had no training.  Perhaps some of my response could be helpful to others in the same situation.  My comments were assuming that he was going into an already existing program with established ways of doing things, a curriculum already chosen, etc.

1)  Learn what expectations your church has for someone in the role of Sunday School superintendent.

Ideally, they would have a written job description to give you.  If not, perhaps you can request that one be drafted for you.  Find out to whom you are accountable (Christian Education Board, Director of Christian Education, pastor) and what the means of communicating or reporting should be.  Also, get a good idea of where your boundaries are.  For example, what kinds of decisions are you permitted to make on your own and what needs to be brought to the board or pastor (i.e., policies, model of Sunday School, curriculum choices, etc.)?

2)  Spend time talking with the past Sunday School Superintendent, the pastor, Director of Christian Education, and others who have been involved in Sunday School.

Find out what procedures are already in place and how they are accomplished, the purpose for your Sunday School and what is in place to accomplish that goal, etc.  Learn from their experience and different perspectives.

3)  Study a little about the history of Sunday School and the potential that exists within this type of ministry program for discipleship, outreach, fellowship, assimilation, etc.

You need a clear understanding of the importance of Sunday School if you are going to be instrumental in moving it forward.   —  Resource list of books and articles about Sunday School

4)  Become thoroughly acquainted with the curriculum that is used in your Sunday School.

Look at the scope and sequence charts to get a good idea of where the curriculum will take your students and how that fits into your purpose.  You need to know not only what students are learning but also what teachers have to work with so you can best serve them.

5)  Get a grasp on basic administrative and supervisory skills and specifically how they apply to overseeing the Sunday School program.

Sunday School Superintendents are heavily involved in administration and staffing to facilitate an effective Bible learning strategy each Sunday.

Organization:  This involves grouping for departments/divisions and classes based on a proper teacher to student ratio.  It is good for you to develop an organizational chart.  Know that this may need to be adjusted quarterly or yearly based on attendance, etc.

Delegation:  This involves building a team to assist you and delegating responsibilities to them.  In addition to teachers, helpers, and department heads, you could benefit by having an assistant and/or secretary to help you with some of the various details.  The smaller the church, the more you might find yourself doing many of the tasks but should still delegate as you can.  The larger the church, the more you will need to delegate.  Some of the many tasks that could be delegated are:  ordering and distributing curriculum and classroom supplies, maintaining records, facility management to keep it inviting and conducive to learning, following-up with absentees and visitors, maintaining supplies and equipment, etc.  While all these tasks could be delegated, as superintendent, you still need to supervise those to whom tasks are delegated, giving deadlines and means of reporting and accountability.

Staffing:  This involves recruitment of teachers, department leaders, etc., providing training to equip and encourage them and supervision.  Job descriptions for everyone and evaluation or feedback is most helpful.  Plan meetings with staff to get them involved in the planning process, to keep them informed, and build an atmosphere of teamwork.  The staffing ministry section on the MinTools.com site could be helpful.    The  resources at TrainBibleTeachers.com could be useful to you for teacher training.

Coordination:  This involves scheduling, facility/room usage based on group sizes and age level developmental space needs, dealing with safety/security issues, allocating and/or managing budget needs, etc.

Planning: This involves strategizing the best way to accomplish various tasks that need to be done annually, quarterly, weekly.  Developing a planning calendar for when various tasks must be accomplished could be helpful.

Promotion:  This involves publicizing your Sunday School to your church members and in your community with the hopes of keeping people aware of its importance to their spiritual growth and increasing attendance.

Communication:  This involves keeping in contact with teachers and parents, perhaps through a newsletter, e-mail, or other means.  You will be communicating changes, schedules, plans, procedures, policies, etc.  You need to be concerned about parent-church relations and keep lines of communication open between you and teachers.

Evaluation: This involves surveying teachers, leaders, and/or participants to see if the purpose is being accomplished.  Doing a needs assessment can help you determine what must be done to improve and grow.  This also involves observation as you are present each Sunday to not only be available to teachers and deal with unexpected needs or issues but also to observe problems to determine what needs improvement and to observe progress being made to extend appreciation and affirmation to others.

6)  Most important, seek after God through prayer and study of His Word. 

He will give you wisdom and understanding as you look to Him.

19 thoughts on “So, You Were Asked to be the Sunday School Superintendent!

  1. What questions can be asked of the students to evaluate the effectiveness of the Sunday School teachers ?

  2. There is a lot I don’t know yet but I am willing to learn. Thank you for the information in this post. God bless you in your ministry. We are a small church of about 65 – 70 attendance in worship service. Our SS is considerably less. We are looking for ways to increase. We covet your prayers. Thanks

    • You are most welcome, Ron. We would be glad to pray for your church and specifically its Sunday School ministry. Though small, God can still use it right NOW to lay some good foundations as you seek to line up with God’s heart and ways for it. Let me encourage you to make it the best and most impacting it possibly can be NOW. An increase in attendance would certainly be a good thing but also very, very important is what is happening in the lives of those who attend NOW. In addition, those currently attending will have a major role in the growth of your Sunday School.

      A study was done years ago, which I believe to still be true, concluding that a significant percentage of the people who initially attend Sunday School, become a Christian, or become a member of a church, do so because of friends/relatives. What this suggests is that in the final analysis the people currently attending are going to have a more significant role than special programs/events, visitation, etc. in the growth of your Sunday School. If those currently attending aren’t excited about it or aren’t being personally impacted as a result, they will be less likely to bring friends/family with them. And, if they do, the friends/family won’t be as prone to keep coming back and bring their friends/family if they don’t sense anything happening there. So, again, I repeat, make your Sunday School the best and most impacting it possibly can be NOW while you are small. Your request for prayer is so strategic to this.

      • Thank you for your encouragement. God bless your efforts to “equip the saints.”

  3. The information provided was very helpful, there is so much to know and learn.
    God Bless.

    • You are so right, Shernett, about there being so much to learn. And, it doesn’t matter how long you have been serving as there is always more to learn. I’m so glad this material was helpful to you.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this website. The comments and advice that you and the others have given has been great as well as helpful. In July, my pastor asked me if I would take on the responsibilities of Superintendent for our Sunday School Department. I must say that I have held different types of positions in the church but never this one. I am excited about my new position and I am looking to God’s hand for guidance. Please keep me in your prayers as I do the same for you’ll.

    • I’m so glad you are finding the material on the site to be helpful, Tamarah. I would be glad to pray for you in your new position as Sunday School Superintendent. There are a lot of details to tend to so it will be crucial for you to take time to step back and consider what needs to be done, when it needs to be done by, who should do it (yourself or someone to whom you can delegate it), and how you will measure the effectiveness of what is being done so as to make adaptations as needed. Much of what happens in Sunday School is cyclical (i.e., ordering of curriculum, recruiting of teachers, scheduling and setting up of classes, etc. that happens quarterly/yearly) so if you can develop some efficient patterns to accomplish those tasks in timely fashion, you will find yourself freed up for the unexpected and for developing new ideas or making improvements. Of course, all of that needs to be embedded in prayer because God’s guidance, as you mentioned, is critical.

  5. I truly do thank God for leading me to your website!! Reading all the wisdom you took time to type out and post really did my heart a great justice! My husband was just named pastor and the church had only one class which was an adult class, so I started a childrens class and my class expanded so wide until I had to recruit another teacher. So my husband seeing my gift made me superintendent!! I have some experience from being SI at the church I attended before marriage, but reading this wisdom has really opened my eyes to so many things that I wasn’t aware of!!!! Thank you for letting God use you. So many ideas rushed through my head while reading this post and if you have anymore wisdom to share with us please DO:)

    • Melanie, I praise God for the growth you saw as a teacher. Hopefully you can identify some of the traits that God used to spur on such growth and train your teachers accordingly. As you invest your life into your teachers, they in turn can pour themselves into their students’ lives. Your teaching staff being on the same page, all working toward that common purpose, will potentially then continue that growth. One thing that will be important for you as you get more involved in administrating the Sunday School is that you never lose sight of what is happening in students’ lives so it doesn’t become about merely maintaining a smooth-running program.

  6. where can I find job descriptions for general superintendent. asst. superintendent Secretary and treasure of sunday school?

    • The best job descriptions are those that are tailored to your particular setting and needs. Having a sample can be beneficial but should be adapted to fit your particular Sunday School. I do not know of any one book that has just job descriptions for the Sunday School staff you mentioned. You will find some in The Big Book of Job Descriptions for Ministry but the book covers many other ministries as well. Following are some job descriptions on some sites you might be able to glean some ideas from:
      Leading the Sunday school ministry

  7. your suggestions are helpful. I’ve been asked as S.School Supdt for the high school students 14-18, to get feedback from students and teachers by giving them a a feedback form with Qs. Could you send me a sample of the kind of Qs please?

    • Mary, the types of questions you use would depend on what you are hoping to learn. If you want to know more about the teaching/teachers, see the first comment above which give you some thoughts on that. If you want questions to measure the overall effectiveness of your Sunday School ministry, I will answer that in a new blog post which should be put up on Wednesday. An adequate response merits more than what I would cover in a response to a comment. Please be sure to check back. You can subscribe to receive e-mail notice of new blog posts if you wish.