Dr. Thom Rainer's book Effective Evangelistic Churches is built from research of 576 churches that are evangelistic. These churches have a baptism ration of 20:1 (20 members per baptism). That is about double the SBC average. Dr. Rainer surveyed these churches to discover not only IF they were evangelistic, but HOW they were evangelistic. This book shares his research, and also reveals that an overwhelming number of the churches were intentionally evangelistic through their Sunday School classes. Here are some highlights of Rainer's research. Tomorrow we will look at some practical ways to implement these four key points.
Some lessons from Effective Evangelistic Churches:
1. Healthy Sunday Schools are evangelistic. The reverse is also true. Unhealthy Sunday Schools are not evangelistic. This is more than just playing a word game. Remember that the mission of Sunday School class is to be the arms and legs of the church's mission focus. That's clearly on lost people. Looking at this logically, if a Sunday School never evangelizes its community, then over time it will cease to exist. Take a look at your church's growth over the past 5 or 10 years. About 80% of Southern Baptist churches are declining.
2. Healthy Sunday Schools provide a biblical education to all age groups. Healthy Sunday Schools study the Bible. They refuse to get distracted by studying books, as helpful as those books may be, they are not the written Word of God. In addition, look at those last three words… "all age groups". Healthy Sunday Schools aim to teach the Bible to every person, no matter their age. No one is too spiritual for Bible study. What more practical way can there be to teach every person in the church a biblical world view, 52 weeks a year, than to involve every person in the church in small group Bible studies. In addition, Sunday School is a very practical way to teach people who have just accepted Christ as Savior a biblical world view.
3. Healthy Sunday Schools provide ministry to people, both members and non-members. Jesus not only sought to seek and save the lost, but He ministered to people along the way. Your Sunday School class is more than just a weekly Bible study, the ministry of your class is a reflection of your church's love and care for people. Bible study groups that provide genuine love and care for the people in their group and their associated friends and acquaintances in the community are sowing seeds of the gospel.
4. Healthy Sunday Schools assimilate members. 90% of the churches in Rainer's survey said that their most effective assimilation strategy was the Sunday School. If your church is going to reach your community with the gospel, Sunday School is not only a key strategy for reaching but also for keeping those you reach. Many churches who do not understand how Sunday School works have one strategy to evangelize their community, another strategy to disciple the people they reach, still another strategy to minister to its members, and finally another strategy to engage their members in the church's mission. Churches that understand Sunday School properly use it as a strategy to do all of the above… in only one organization. No competing ministries for time, calendar, and budget. Competition for ministry leaders are reduced. The Sunday School becomes what it is supposed to be.. the church organized to fulfill its mission!
Tomorrow we are going to look at some practical ways to help make sure your Sunday School class is evangelistic.