Today I want to address an issue I have seen in Sunday Schools all over. There seems to be a conflict about how to make disciples and teach and have deep learning, yet be open group and grow your Sunday School and church at the same time. I want to propose my suggestion to you today. If I was building a program, this is how I would set it up.
First, and I have said this over and over, Sunday School needs to have a 3 fold function of fellowship/connecting people, teaching them scripture, and sharing the Gospel/ outreach. With this function Sunday School needs to be fluid, open group with basic teaching. I know some hairs bristled at the idea of basic teaching, but stick with me, we will get there. The Sunday School classes need to be growing and changing, people coming in and people going out to do other ministry. They are fluid, so each lesson needs to stand on it’s own. Don’t make a plan to build a class of 25 people who will stay together for 20 years. Plan for 8 people who will someday make up 8 classes of 10 people. Plan to grow and expand.
Make departments, not classes. Focus on building a department full of classes, with a department head. Make a Young Adult department, encourage them to coordinate between classes, have activities together and do ministry as a department. Grow that department, add classes and teachers and workers. Think bigger and more forward.
Build a ministry based on a philosophy of reaching people, teaching them about God’s word and growing them into community. We have to change the mindset that we can put people into a 50 minute Sunday School and have them come out mature disciples. Stay with me here, what I am going to suggest next I think is the key and the answer. You can disagree with me, but this is what I’ve seen and experienced.
Mature believers have no business sitting in a Sunday School. The key to maturing believers in Sunday School is service. The structure I proposed and will continue to propose needs people to serve. To grow classes and keep them at the optimal range of 8 to 12 people, you need a lot of teachers. Each class should have a teacher, an assistant or apprentice, a prayer coordinator, a secretary and maybe a fellowship coordinator. Each department needs a department head, a secretary and an activities coordinator. The entire Sunday School needs a director, secretary and activities coordinator. You should have a person or group working on outreach and evangelism connected to Sunday School. Classes need to contact, visit and reach out. There is a lot to be done, and the people need to be mobilized. Real discipleship happens while serving. The Bible teaching is important, but if you want people to go deep, have them teach.
Remember, the goal of Sunday School is life transformation the other 6 days a week. We are not teaching simple facts, we are giving people the opportunity to discover something that will change their lives, then asking them to use it. They use it in service. If someone is a mature believer, they need to be in service. Everyone can do something, they can pray or send a postcard. Even your children need service roles and opportunities.
In addition to Sunday School, I recommend a Small Group or Discipleship training time to do some more in depth, closed material. I recommend people together for 1 on 1 mentoring, for closed small group discipleship and mission projects in addition to Sunday School. This gives them a chance to learn, and to apply what they have learned, and help your church achieve the mission of going and making disciples. I pray your SS is growing, vibrant and healthy. If you would like consultation on your Sunday School, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.