I leave today for the annual State Conventions Summit in Nashville. The Summit is hosted by LIfeWay Christian Resources each year. If you are not a Southern Baptist, our convention is made up of about 42 state conventions (some states combine, like Maryland-Delaware, Utah-Idaho, etc.). The Summit is an opportunity for those of us with church health, church growth, leadership, or discipleship responsibilities in our state conventions to get together, primarily for networking and sharing ideas and information.
LifeWay does a great job hosting this event, and I appreciate their commitment to partnering with the states and especially their willingness to listen to what is happening in the churches represented by the people attending. As the largest Christian publisher in the world, LifeWay has a listening ear. Leaders from across the nation have the opportunity to provide input and direction for LifeWay as it designs product and curriculum that is used by more than just Southern Baptists.
I'll be hosting the Sunday School affinity group at the Summit. We have 36 State Sunday School leaders attending and we are going to hear from the likes of Ed Stetzer, Bruce Raley, David Francis, Sergio Arce, and Jason Hayes. When we are not engaged in dialogue with these men, we are going to wrestle with some pressing issues that we are all facing, such as:
- Is Sunday School losing its lustre and if so, how do we address that?
- Do we need to re-define Sunday School's purpose?
- Are we making disciples or attenders in Sunday School and small groups?
- Have we (State Sunday School leaders) missed a paradigm shift in our culture that affects the Sunday School in our churches?
From my perspective, one of the biggest issues we face, not just as Sunday School or small group leaders, but from a LifeWay and state convention perspective is relevancy. Seriously, is the Kingdom being expanded in significant ways because of our work and leadership? The theme of the Summit this year is "Transformed Leaders…Transformed Churches". Along this line, perhaps a Sunday School transformation is needed too.
It should be an interesting three days in Nashville. Pray for us as we tackle these issues.
By the way, if you have any thoughts about them, leave a comment below. I would love to hear your input.