By Bruce Chesser
President, Tennessee Baptist Convention
We hear much these days, rightly so, about discipleship. It is our commission that the Lord gave to us. We are to go into all the world and “make disciples.” But let me remind you that discipleship is not just for adults. It is a mistake to view it that way. As a matter of fact, the process of discipleship begins very early. It should encompass preschool, children, and students as well as adults.
I personally believe that one of the greatest tools that we must use in order to begin the process of making disciples is through our Sunday School/Connect Group/Life Groups (whatever you happen to call them in your church). For the purpose of this article, I will just use the name “Sunday School” since I think most of us understand what I am talking about.
My fear is that, for many of us, Sunday School has become like a snowball rolling down a hill. It is just moving on its own momentum. It serves a purpose. It provides an opportunity for Bible Study and fellowship for our people. It works. It is good.
But Sunday School began with a very different intent. Sunday School should have three primary purposes: reach, teach, and minister.
The minister part involves fellowship and getting to know each other and sharing life together Most Sunday School classes do a pretty good job of ministering to each other in times of sickness and death. And, of course, we understand that Sunday School has the goal of teaching the Word of God.
A Sunday School class that does not teach the Bible should re-examine its reason for existing. We are there to teach the Bible. Use good curriculum that gives you a well-rounded look at all the truths of God’s Word. This is key! But the third purpose is often neglected these days; that is to reach people for Christ.
Did you know that for every three lost people enrolled in a Sunday School class, one will be saved within a year? Think about that for a moment.
Do you want to see more people saved in your community? Do you want to see people baptized in your church? Do you want to see your church reach more people and grow in its influence and ministry in the years ahead? Then enroll people in your Sunday School classes! It works. It worked 75 years ago. It worked 50 years ago. And it works today.
By the way, Sunday School classes, by design, should be open groups. That means that new people can join the group and be welcomed at any time. Some of you may be thinking, “well, all of our chairs are full, and I don’t know how well a new person would be received.”
Let me tell you a secret: we have 86 adult Sunday School classes in our church. And we know that some of them are full and others might not be very open to new people. So, you know what we do? We start new classes. New classes grow. We will begin 18 new adult classes in 2020. And every one of them will grow. New classes grow. It’s a fact.
You might not be able to start 18 new classes, but you can begin with one! And you can do everything you can to try to help your current Sunday School teachers/leaders understand the importance of what they are doing and catch the vision of what it might be.
It’s time to re-think Sunday School. I’ll talk with you a little more about it next month.
If you need help from the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board contact Roc Collins’ office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-558-2090. Sharlyn Ricks, his assistant, will get your request to the right person. B&R — Chesser is pastor of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville.