I’ve had some great conversations this week with Sunday School, small group, and discipleship leaders at LifeWay Christian Resources Partners’ Summit. The event was held at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in Ridgecrest, NC. Several times over the past 48 hours I heard a profound statement that Sunday School teachers/group leaders need to hear. Listen in to these 3 separate conversations I was a part of this week:
- “What the Bible says is more important than what I say” – This statement was made by one of the country’s leading Sunday School ambassadors. It is an acknowledgement that the focus of a group’s Bible study must be the Scripture, not the group leader’s opinions. It recognizes that when a teacher waxes eloquent, a sacrifice is made; biblical content is jettisoned in favor of a teacher’s thoughts and ideas. And it also hints at the fact that too many teachers use one-sided communication techniques such as lecture, which allows them to dominate the teaching time.
- “What happens between Sundays is as important as what happens in the classroom” – Do the members of your group each have a Personal Study Guide (PSG)? Those relatively inexpensive tools provide a framework for discipleship even when group members are absent. It is important that people have a tool in their hands that enables them to keep up with the rest of the group. It is important that the tool is part of a wise plan of discipleship. Reading and responding to the contents of individual sessions in a PSG is one way to stay engaged with God’s Word in between group meetings, and personal preparation always enhances the experience of the group as prepared people share their thoughts about the contents of the lesson.
- “Consumerism has affected the church, its members, and Bible study groups in some profound ways” – Micah Fries from LifeWay Research shared this comment with the attendees, and he noted that many people approach their search for a church home like consumers approach shopping. In fact, he asked the conference attendees to think about what we call the search for a new church home (“church shopping”) and how consumerism in the church has caused people to (a) look for the best option (2) seek out the most comfortable fit and (c) pay the lowest price possible, just like we do when seeking to purchase an item of clothing for ourselves. Group leaders must find ways to combat the new consumerism that affects the way people view church and group membership. The cost of being a member must be explained and explained again. People must know that to be a member of a local congregation means they are going to be asked to pay a high price as they subordinate themselves to their Father’s will.
Of course there were other equally important things said by attendees and conference leaders, but I’ll close this blog post by only mentioning the 3 above. Which one of the three is affecting you and your church or Bible study group the most profoundly?