Top 20 Components of an ABF

What’s needed to run an effective adult Sunday School class? Here are 20 components that will help any class be successful.

  1. Numerical growth. 15% to 20% have joined during the year. (The class is between 20-40 people.)
  2. In-the-class shepherding. A carefully selected class leader shepherds the people in the class.
  3. Out-of-class shepherding. Care deacons (one for every 10 people/family units) are assigned to care, pray, phone, love and follow-up.
  4. Visitor-friendly. Coffee, juice and warm conversations are to encourage godly relationships.
  5. Relational start. Someone motivates the group to care for each other. He notices ways he can build up class members. Interviews. Laughing. Warmth. Music or game or…
  6. Effective prayer. Time is given for requests to list spiritual and physical needs. This time should model one’s total trust in the Lord. It should also demonstrate that each person/request matters.
  7. Vision-casting for small groups. An ABF is “step two” (after the worship service). The third step is usually a small group for intense sharing, accountability and one-anothering. An ABF should foster the next steps in growth.
  8. Atmosphere that promotes discussion. When the Bible is taught, discussion should be encouraged and questions should be welcomed (and normal).
  9. Bible Centered. The class should have open Bibles and the Word of God should be studied. Extra Bibles should be provided for those without them.
  10. Convictional Bible teaching. In an ABF format the Bible is taught in a warm, open atmosphere. It is also important, however, that the teacher communicates to change lives—not just “cover curriculum.” Each week there must be challenges (and assignments) on ways to apply the truth.
  11. Outwardly-focused. The class should prayerfully seek to plan at least one outreach-related event each year where the ABF tries to lovingly reach-out to the lost.
  12. Supportive of the church. Each ABF should support the on-going ministries of the church. While there are projects that classes should take, special attention should be given to helping with all-church goals/projects.
  13. Age appropriate. ABF’s are especially important for those in similar age-groups (or life-circumstances). Watch having “elective classes.” Don’t force people to “move” to an older class. Allow the group to bond.
  14. Planned multiplication. Each class will have a continued list of 10 future “class members.” A class teacher and leader should constantly seek to have an apprentice to take this group so that a new class can begin with two or three family units from this class.
  15. Effective curriculum. Change the curriculum topic every two-three months. Be sure at least three quarters of the year are devoted to studying the Scripture, not just a biblical “topic” (family issues, career, etc.). Teach the “whole counsel” of God.
  16. Consistent logistics. One hour of class time, regular meeting place, starts and ends on time, has seating conducive to discussion and adequate tools for visual teaching methods.
  17. Class assistance. (A) A directory with all class members’ names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mails. (B) Occasional flyers distributed to list prayer requests, resources to study and coming events. (C) Someone to encourage follow-up (through class “deacons”) for those who are absent or need further growth or have special needs.
  18. Balanced with other church programs. An ABF is flexible enough to have a balance with the type of ministry that is happening in Sunday morning’s sermon. If your pastor is more verse-by-verse, you can be more topical. If your sermons are more “seeker-” sensitive you can be more specific to details. Always teach the Bible and always have positive fellowship.
  19. Strengthens relationships. There should be 4-6 activities/socials a year that encourage ABF members to deepen ties with one another. Special attention should be given to making these simple, yet purposeful. Often these can take on “service-related” focus.
  20. Sense of ownership. Encourage an ABF to pray and “adopt” a missionary or college student or special-needs child, Children’s Sunday School class, campers, etc. Give. Pray. Report.