Will the Sunday School in your church ultimately fail, or will it fly? Some people have already had the funeral and are experimenting with other options for grouping people in Bible study. Others are hopeful that Sunday School will experience revival.
I believe that Sunday School will experience revival in many churches. I also believe that unless changes take place in others, the Sunday School in those churches will experience failure. Here are four reasons why Sunday Schools will fail:
- Sunday Schools will fail if they remain campus-centric. The church today would benefit greatly if Sunday School classes left the church campus in order to serve and minister in the community. The days of “Y’all come” are over. It is past time to “Go and make disciples” (emphasis on “go”!). Group members must recognize that they exist for people “not yet here.” This coming Sunday, over 30% of the members of my church’s Sunday School are fanning out into our community to take on several projects in which they will give a day to serve others. Churches must make sure people know that it’s OK for Sunday School to operate on days other than Sunday!
- Sunday Schools will fail if they don’t make disciples. The goal of Sunday School is to reach people for Christ. Evangelism must drive the actions of the Sunday School, and making disciples begins with evangelizing them. We may erroneously believe that Sunday School is for the saved – the place we grow and mature them. Well, it is, but it’s also the place that pre-Christians should sit among believers as they all study and discuss the Scripture.
- Sunday Schools will fail if they do not start new groups. Groups tend to calcify after the people have been together for 18 months or longer. Any group that has been in existence for 2 or more years will struggle to grow and attract new people because it often feels “cliquish” to guests who try to fit in. Starting new groups makes sure that guests have places to attend Bible study in which relationships haven’t fully formed as they do in older groups. Generally, newer groups are much better places to send people who desire to connect with others for Bible study.
- Sunday Schools will fail if they focus on education. Groups that grow will be the ones that understand Sunday School is not just about studying the Bible. Fast-growing groups have a balanced approach to their ministry. They teach the Bible, the people care for one another, the group serves and sends people into the preschool, kids, and student ministries, and the group also serves outside the church campus. Groups that have a balanced ministry will keep the Sunday School from failing.
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