By Bruce Chesser
President, Tennessee Baptist Convention
Imagine if you told some foreign enemy that there were over 40,000 small gatherings across Tennessee (that’s a rough estimate of how many Sunday School classes we have in our 3,200 churches) and that they could have control of those groups.
I would suggest to you that in short order that enemy would take over Tennessee and move on from there. Why are we allowing this great tool for reaching and discipling the people of Tennessee to lay dormant? It is there. Let’s use it!
The most exciting part about this is that everyone can do it. Almost every Tennessee Baptist church already has the structure in place. It will not cost you any money. You already have everything in place for it. Unfortunately, we have just not put the emphasis and focus on it that we should, and it has been dormant for many years.
There was a time when Sunday School fell out of fashion with a lot of growing churches across America. They were emphasizing small groups that would meet at other times (by the way, Sunday School classes can meet anytime, any day, anywhere).
I see a trend reversing in America. I see churches that are realizing that people want to have the opportunity to gather for worship and, at the same time, be a part of a Sunday School/small group/life group/connect group.
Did you know that when Sunday School began its primary focus was on children? It then expanded to offer classes for adults, as well.
Statistics tell us that most people that come to Christ will do so before they are 18 years old. It only makes sense that we do everything possible to reach those precious boys and girls with the gospel.
Vacation Bible School, yes! Camps, yes! Retreats, yes! Age group ministries, yes! Events, yes! But Sunday School, YES!! Every week we have an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with men, women, boys and girls across Tennessee.
Now, let’s talk for a moment about what happens in a good Sunday School class. There is fellowship. There is the sharing of life. There is ministry. There is opportunity for service. But there must be a time to open God’s Word and hear from the Lord. The Holy Spirit does an amazing thing. He can take whatever passage we happen to be studying and apply spiritual truths into the lives of the people present to meet them at their point of need.
You have people in your church right now that have the spiritual gift of being able to teach. Make sure you find those people to teach your classes. God will use them!
Remember, there is no perfect size for a Sunday School class. A good class could have four or five people and a good class could have 40 or 50 people. The ideal classes are probably around 15-20 for adults and, of course, fewer for the preschoolers.
And think about this. Not only will one out of three lost people enrolled in a Sunday School class be saved in the course of a year, but you will also see some other things.
People who attend a Sunday School class are more likely to: attend regularly, give more generously, read their Bible more and share their faith more. And one other thing, Sunday School is your best training ground for discovering and training new leaders for your church.
It’s time to re-think Sunday School!
If you need help from the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board contact Roc Collins’ office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-558-2090 and Sharlyn Ricks, his assistant, will get your request to the right person. B&R — Chesser is pastor of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville.