Sunday School may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of the local church. In fact, walk into any Sunday School class (or your church’s functional equivalent – small group, LifeGroup, Community Group, etc.), hand out some index cards and ask each person in the group to write their definition of Sunday School on the card. After you collect the cards it is very likely that you will have a multitude of answers. Here is the issue:
How can the largest organization in your church (Sunday School)
function with so many different definitions?
Although there may be a multitude of reasons of how you can arrive at such varied responses from the same class, one of them is at the top of the list. The church’s leadership has not effectively communicated a defining purpose for the Sunday School. As a result, each division director; department leader; teacher; and individual member creates a definition of Sunday School in their own image! And often, these definitions compete rather than compliment each other.
Many of our churches need to bring some clarity to the purpose of Sunday School. A simple, defining strategy that can identy and bring clarity to why the church even does Sunday School in the first place.
Before you choose to “fix” your Sunday School, identify why you even have it to begin with.
At the BGCO, we have a simple defining strategy of Sunday School.
Sunday School is the church’s primary strategy to connect people to Jesus,
His community, His truth, and His mission.
Sunday School may not be the church’s only evangelism and discipleship strategy, but it should the church’s primary strategy. Sunday School is how the church actually organizes itself to accomplish the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
The church’s Sunday School or small group strategy is in the “people business”. This is the church’s people centered, relationship building strategy. We identify four relationship connectors that should drive every class or group in the Sunday School.
Connector #1 – Jesus
Christianity is built on relationships, and we want to connect everyone to the ultimate person – Jesus Christ. THE driving passion of Sunday School must be to bring every person that lives in the neighborhoods around the church, and around the world, into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Connector #2 – His community
Although the local church body is the community of Christ, it is easier to connect with others in smaller groups rather than large gatherings - Sunday School! Let’s also recognize the evangelistic influence a group can have by allowing a person to belong to a group in order to bring them to belief. A Sunday School group that functioning biblically has a powerful, winsome influence on the unsaved. And unlike church membership, in Sunday School, you can belong before you believe!
Connector #3 – His truth
We connect people in Sunday School to God’s truth. John 17:17 – “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” We want to bring every group member, and every lost friend that the group has, into a lifechanging study and interaction with God’s word. Also, Bible study plays a major role in bringing a lost person to Christ because God’s word is able to “…penetrate soul and spirit” with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Connector #4 – His mission
It is critical to the mission of the church that we connect every member to its mission. The most effective way to connect as many people as possible to the church’s mission is to make sure that every group in the church is in alignment with the church’s mission to reach and make disciples of the lost; and then get every member of the church into a group! It is critical that this final connector become a reality. Without it, we are in danger of creating a bunch of Sunday morning pew sitters instead of missionaries!
Having a common defining purpose for the Sunday School is the beginning step into bringing the church’s largest organization into alignment with its purpose.