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.