Over the last year, I have had the joy of sitting in on over 35 different Sunday School classes or groups. These groups have been from churches that averaged 15 to 1800. At least three things took place in every one of these classes or groups. People were prayed for. Some type of fellowship took place among the members. And the Bible was taught.
WOW! If that is all Sunday School is, it is worth doing.
But this experience has caused me to ask a question. It has become a question that I ask in almost every conference. It is a question that I often start every consultation. And it is a question that I have even asked from the pulpit. Here’s the question:
If all Sunday School does is teach those who show up, pray for those who show up, and fellowship with those who show up, is that enough?
In every incident, the answer to that question from someone in attendance has been an emphatic NO. But in most cases, their actions were speaking louder than their words. Why? Because this is what the Sunday School has been allowed to become in most of our churches. It has become a ministry to those who show up. Sunday School was never intended to become just a ministry to those who show up. It was always intended to be a strategy for reaching out to people who weren’t there and ministering to people who aren’t there.
While preaching on a Sunday School Focus Day at FBC Rocky Top, I found a gem in the church library. It was a reprint of Arthur Flake’s book, The True Functions of the Sunday School. He wrote, “When its priority as an outreaching, soul-winning agency is recognized, the Sunday School serves to strengthen the whole church program.”
At the end of most of the conference that I lead, everyone gets in a circle. Then I quote from Ken Hemphill’s book Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur: “The Sunday School must be plugged into a passion for evangelism; otherwise, it will settle into the comfort zone of a maintenance organization. By ignoring the evangelistic potential of the Sunday School, we have reduced Sunday School to a stagnant pool of introverted groups that look primarily to their own needs and interests and ignore the plight of the unsaved.” Then I ask everyone to turn around and pray that God would help us turn our Sunday Schools from being inwardly focused to becoming outwardly focused.
What’s your answer? If all Sunday School does is teach those who show up, pray for those who show up, and fellowship with those who show up, is that enough?
If you answered NO, then let me encourage you to lead your church to participate in the Connect>1 Evangelism Campaign this Fall. (A sampler packet will be sent to every TBC church after Easter.) The goal of the Connect>1 Evangelism Campaign is to equip and engage every church member in personal evangelism through the church’s small groups or Sunday School.
For help or information, contact me at 615-476-5564 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.