In a recent Outreach Magazine article, Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research, shared three things churches love that kill outreach. I encourage you to check out the article: 3 Things Churches Love That KILL Outreach.
Allow me to share his three points but apply them to Sunday School:
- Too many churches love past culture more than their current context. I have heard so many Sunday School teachers and leaders talk about their past with fondness and animosity toward their present. This extends to people in their community, ways of life, the need of people for Jesus. Thom Rainer has shared research that states that 62% of the unchurched responded that they are at least somewhat likely to come if invited. That is still a ton of people who need an invitation, many of whom will come. Stop saying no for people. Invite them. Love your community. Love them to Sunday School. Love them to church. Love them to Jesus. Be proactive. Rename your adult and youth class outreach leaders to Community Care Coordinators. The point is enlist leaders to love on and invite the unreached community.
- Too many churches love their comfort more than their mission. I have literally been told by teachers that they don’t want any additional people in their classes. They were comfortable as they were. They have forgotten that someone cared enough to reach out to them. They have forgotten what our Lord did for them (paid their unpayable sin penalty). They are neglecting the command of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) to make disciples of all nations. Instead, these leaders and classes prefer to focus on selves rather than other. Some would rather hold onto their members than send new leaders out for new classes to reach new people that will never come to their classes. Some invest time and money on chair cushions and fellowship rather than reaching out in care. They neglect to schedule for the class to carry out the mission. They neglect to enlist leaders whose focus is to help the class pray, care, and invite.
- Too many churches love their traditions more than their children. Ouch! That one is painful. What if our traditions were preventing us from reaching our children and grandchildren? Would you be willing to sacrifice a sacred cow? What if it was the time for youth and young adult Sunday School? What if it were the type of Bible study experience or materials? What if it had to do with how the class time was structured? What if it meant moving away from an expert teaching a lesson toward a facilitator leading a life-changing encounter with God in His Word? What if it meant giving up your classroom for a class for your children or grandchildren? Traditions can be good, but they are problems when they prevent us from carrying out the Great Commission most effectively. Sometimes the enemy of the great is something that is good (or used to be good).
Remember to read Ed’s article for more insights: 3 Things Churches Love That KILL Outreach. I am still thinking about these issues and how to respond. What would you add? Press Comments below and share your thoughts. Don’t love the wrong things. Prayerfully evaluate your attitudes and actions. Do they show love for those for whom Jesus died that are as yet unreached? Care and invite. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!