Yes, there are certain words that should always go hand-in-hand with the ministry of Sunday School. After training a group of new friends from the First Baptist Church of Seguin, TX this weekend, I was reminded of the importance of these in the life of any church’s Sunday School ministry. By the way, this church’s education pastor, Josh Tylich, is doing a great job of leading his church’s Sunday School and I’ve asked him to be a guest blogger here in the near future; I want you to hear what he’s doing to move the needle and posture the Sunday School for growth. Here are two words that Josh is using, and anyone should use, when they are serious about the ministry of Sunday School:
- Open – Open groups expect new people each week. It’s a mindset that says “we exist for those not yet here.” Open groups anticipate having guests and do things like: (a) wear name tags (b) provide each person with a copy of a Personal Study Guide (3) make sure there are extra chairs available (4) introduce the guest to the group (5) invite the guest back, and (6) has an empty chair at the front of the room to remind the group members that there is always room for one more person! An open group, unlike a closed group, wants and anticipates that new people could be present any time the group meets. In fact, they are hoping that happens and are aggressively looking for new people to add to their group.
- Ongoing – Besides being open, effective Sunday School groups use ongoing Bible study materials. Why are materials called “ongoing”? Because the group never ends – it meets each week. Ongoing curriculum provides a complete and satisfying Bible study experience each week, and sessions do not necessarily build upon each other. This makes sure than as an open group with guests present, those guests can jump right into the Bible study without missing weeks of prior studies – they are on equal footing with the rest of the group. Some open groups have tried using “closed group” materials (more discipleship study oriented) that have lots of daily homework and much higher requirements; these groups have discovered that it’s hard to attract new members when the studies are so closed and new members have no chance of catching up with the group. This is why Sunday School groups choose ongoing studies that stand alone – it’s just more guest-friendly and helps reach new people for Jesus.
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