Happy New Year!
After some time off around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I’m back in the saddle and looking forward to a great 2018. I’ve completed the manuscript for a new book on increasing the health and vitality of your Sunday School (I’ll let you know when it will be available), and I begin a new ministry this coming weekend as I go on staff at a church to guide their education/discipleship ministry (yes, I still have my day job!).
As we begin 2018, it’s important to think about taking Sunday out of Sunday School. What possible benefits could there be to removing Sunday from Sunday School? I can think of several reasons this is a good idea:
- “Sunday” leads you to believe it’s about one day a week – This has been a challenge for many Sunday School leaders. They are recruited to teach a class, and they see their teaching ministry confined to Sunday mornings. The mission, they assume, is 9AM to noon on Sunday morning. But in my experience, the best Sunday School leaders know that there isn’t anything “Sunday” about Sunday School. This time-honored ministry should be thought of as a 24/7 ministry, one that rallies the troops on Sunday, then sends them out to serve and live out the gospel throughout the week.
- “Sunday” limits the possibilities for your Sunday School – Did you know that about 25% of the people in your town cannot attend your church on Sunday morning? They are working, and could not be there if they wanted to. If you are going to reach new people for Christ, Bible study, and church membership, you must start new groups on days other than Sunday. Sunday School groups can be started any day and any time that people are willing to attend.
- “Sunday” sets up an expectation that it’s all about the teaching – Closely related to #1 above, having a Sunday mindset really says that Sunday School is all about the teaching that takes place. The assumption is that people will hear a lesson, receive its truth, and live it out. But if that were the case, we’d have already done this as Southern Baptists! Sunday School is about teaching, but it is also about living life together as a group beyond Sunday morning. It’s about relating to one another, serving people in the community, and keeping the focus on people who need to know the Lord. In my experience, the best Sunday School classes understand this, and “Sunday School” begins at noon on Sunday and ends sometime before bedtime on Saturday night. Sunday School, for them, intertwines with every aspect of their lives.
As you lead your group this year, don’t see Sunday as the culmination of a week of study and preparation. Think of it as a time to come together for study, prayer, and encouragement, and a time to recharge your spiritual batteries. Then send out your people to serve one another, serve people in the community, and to live life in proximity to one another and in proximity to lost persons who are far from God. That’s good Sunday School.
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