When Clayton M. Christensen coined the term “disruptive innovation” in a 1995 paper for Harvard Business School, he wasn’t just speaking of breakthrough innovations that make good products better. Christensen’s research found that disruptions can lead to positive results, but only if the organization recognizes the opportunity.
When historians look back to 2020 it certainly will be called the “Year of COVID-19.” The time will be galvanized into people’s memories just as 9/11 or Kennedy’s assassination. We will not likely forget this critical time of our existence. However, is this time of crisis a time for the church to endure through and try to get back to “what we were doing?”
I’m afraid that this situation will lead to a conclusion by our churches to say, “See how God protected us during this crisis? We must be doing His Will and now we can get back to doing what we were doing…” What is emerging from this crisis is something that is more about the underlying issue of the authentic believer, and not about the crisis itself. Are we facing a NEW REALITY?
If you are a Sunday School Director or leader, what is your task, now that all functionality has been disrupted in your ministry structure? Will you seek to get back to the “way we were?” Or, will you use this time to seek a better understanding of the opportunity God has presented?
One of the greatest examples of discipleship is Paul instructing Timothy. Paul urges this young man to remember some important foundational truths like worship and leadership. Paul instructs him to avoid certain things like false teachings and the love of money and Godlessness.
And in 2 Timothy 1, we find Paul telling this young, often scared, believer, to remember the gift that he possesses, (vs. 6). That this gift is neither built upon fear nor timidity, but upon love and self-control, (vs. 7). Paul prays for him day and night, remembering Timothy’s tears, (vs. 3-4). Then Paul transitions to the focus that will allow Timothy to be that person who does not allow concern to turn into fear. Paul tells him to remember that the calling was a holy calling, (vs. 9). Paul says that his own calling, Jesus has upon him, allows him to protect that which is entrusted to him, (vs. 12). And so, Timothy, is told to do the same, by the power of the Holy Spirit, (vs. 14).
When we see the relationship between Paul and Timothy, we can see that Paul was a better discipler because of Timothy. Paul knows his death is imminent and that Timothy will need to be strong in his foundation of faith. And Paul is confident of Timothy’s sincere faith, (vs. 5), so much so, that Paul instructs Timothy to entrust the same treasure to other faithful believers (2:2). Our Sunday Schools are designed to replicate. To grow. To birth another class. To entrust others…
We can only do that if we ourselves remember to be in prayer about our relationship with Jesus. And that replicating in Sunday School is not really about a class as much as it is about individuals growing spiritually, who then are empowered by the Holy Spirit to answer the call in their life. And that births a new class.
As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, we have a unique situation, as our members return to church. We have the opportunity to restart the classes with a renewed sense of prayerful humility. A prayer to remind each class member that this disruption can either lead to a desire to get back to our comfort zone or lead us to a “disruptive innovation” as we return to the foundations of our faith.
What will our response be?
Written by Ken Sartain, Small Church Initiative Team Leader, California Southern Baptist Convention