Yesterday I took part in a wonderful exercise. Led by a professional “facilitator” (Foad) Our Sunday School Servants took part in a wonderful workshop to develop an action plan for Sunday School. It’s been a long journey.
It began about three months ago when Foad wa commissioned to take on the job by our far seeing Sunday School Superintendent, Ibrahim. Foad proceeded to invest a mammoth amount of time and effort into surveying the Fathers, the servants, the SS kida and their parents. Oulling together all this data, he summarised it in a beautiful set of objectives that very clearly and succinctly spell out what Sunday School is all about. We now have, in black and white (or lots of other lovely colours on Powerpoint) a clear description of the kind of people we want our servants to be and our children to become. All the servants (great turnout, by the way – about 70 is pretty good for a Sunday afternoon!) took part in formulating this vision, and thus we hope, all feel that they own it and are committed to bringing it to reality.
But that wasn’t the best part…
Then came the painful experience of teasing out what needs to be improved about Sunday School. Once again our servants were not backward about coming forward, and the survey, together with yesterday’s discussions, accumulated a pretty comprehensive list of things to improve. Comprehensive and daunting? No way.
The best was yet to come…
Next, we moved on to the business end of things: The Action Plans. Yep, it was as exciting as it sounds. Breaking up into five groups, we attacked the areas that need improving to come up with practical but innovative ways to improve them. The results were awesome. For each area, I think everyone felt as I did, that the problem wasn’t so invincible as we had feared. Putting all those creative and experienced heads together really sparked and the sum of their work was far greater than its parts!
It remains now for the longsuffering Foad to take all the stuff we came up with yesterday away and to put it into plain and simple Action Plans, with timescales and responsibilities and phasing, and all those other things facilitators love so dearly.
Then it will be time to go ahead and DO IT.
But I think that all the servants felt much better about doing it after yesterday, for a number of reasons:
a. they are no longer isolated. Every servant who experienced a problem realised that other experienced it too and rejoiced that they were going to go about solving it as a team, not on their own.
b. knowing your enemy makes it that much easier to fight him. Having our issues so clearly identified stops us feeling we are just beating the air and getting no where.
c. the support of our Fathers was truly inspiring! Fr Botros, Fr Gabriel and Fr Bishoy have always supported Sunday School above and beyond the call of duty, and their presence, input and wisdom yesterday gave everyone, I think, a big boost, and pulled us all together. It said, “This is really important. This is what we are here for. We have to get this right.”
d. as always, there were some controversial issues (eg. should we emphasise the fear of God?), but as always, differences of opinion were discussed with genuine respect and love, and the discussions enriched us all.
e. by discussing the problems in a constructive atmosphere, servants started to get ideas about how to go about solving them. And when you get an idea, and you think it might work, you are motivated to put your idea into practice. Which means, servants who otherwise sat back and watched others do the work are now really keen to get their hands dirty and do something. That’s gotta be good!
Fr Botros, with his usual reflective wisdom, said to me at the end, “You know, if we anoly acheive 10% of what we’ve planned here today, it will be a revolution!” (or words to that effect). I think he is both right and wrong. Right, because 10% of what we planned yesterday would indeed be a revolutionary improvement in our Sunday School Service. But wrong, because after yesterday, and the wonderful mood that was flying about, I think we will end up achieving significantly more than 10%.
Watch this space…