Jesus has sent us into our community and world to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). Sunday School can have even greater impact upon lives and this discipling effort. In Discipling Outcomes from Sunday School, Part 1, I listed fourteen discipling outcomes which have potential to result from Sunday School.
In this series thus far, these are the posts with the Sunday School discipling issues addressed:
- Part 2 (biblical knowledge and understanding); Part 3 (Christian worldview); Part 4 (spiritual disciplines)
In Part 5, I will focus on ways a class can impact discipling through helping attenders obey God. I have written about the importance of and methods for obedience previously. Check out a few of the blog posts where I have done so:
- The Bible Study Session Invitation
- Moving Sunday School from Knowing Toward Obeying
- Leading Attenders to Meet God in Bible Study, Part 5
- Expectation after the Sunday School Session
- Making Disciples Through Accountability in the Adult Sunday School Class
- Crafting a Sunday School Lesson to Lead to Learning AND Action
- Elements of Sunday School Lesson Excellence, Part 3 Application
- Transitioning from Sunday School Teacher to Disciple Maker
- How Much Time Should the Teacher Talk during the Sunday School Lesson?
- Sunday School: Leading People to Have and Obey Jesus’ Commands
- Marriage of Application and Story in Sunday School
Keep in mind that a discipling Sunday School teacher will not limit discipling to an hour on Sunday morning. Because obedience is living out what our Lord has commanded in His Word, it will naturally be practiced during the other 167 hours. Obedience assumes knowledge and understanding of God’s Word (which was discussed in Part 2), but it is ultimately about obeying God.
How do we move individuals in a class toward an expectation for and pattern and practice of obedience? Consider the following:
- EXAMPLE. The leader’s example is powerful. In my class, our teacher modeled greeting each other and guests on a consistent basis before he began teaching about hospitality. The class got it because we had seen it demonstrated clearly.
- PRACTICING. In a previous post (Could R.O.P.E.S. Improve Sunday School?), I talked about the importance of taking time to practice what was taught. This is the exercise part of the lesson. While not every lesson and truth can easily be practiced in the course of an hour on Sunday morning, we can often add opportunities to practice a related skill to help in practice through the week. If they cannot practice it in class, how can we expect them to do so during the week. We should give thought to that question as we pray and prepare our lessons.
- APPLICATION TIME. Too many lessons are rushed to get finished with everything. When rushed, application time along with time to consider ways to practice the truth are cut short or cut out. We make attenders more guilty of knowing what they should do when we fail to help them plan out a strategy for obedience. This takes time for thinking and response.
- INVITATION. A call for commitment often precedes obedience. This is given at the end of sermons. Why don’t we offer invitations at the conclusion of Sunday School lessons. We should expect response. As a result, we should extend an invitation, calling for a commitment for obedience. And multiple responses may need to be considered.
- QUESTIONS. Asking personal, open-ended questions can be key to leading attenders to consider a course of action, of obedience. It is important to help attenders consider their context, points of resistance, and how to respond as God expects. This may be discussion time, private consideration, or in written response.
- ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS. We all need cheerleaders and encouragers to finish well what we commit and desire to do. Accountability partners who pray and ask questions about “how it went” can encourage us to do what we said we would do. These pairs can meet in class or through the week. It can be in person or by phone. Two-way communication is needed.
- REPORTS. Consider the example of our Lord with His disciples in Mark 6:30. He sent them out to do what He had been doing: preaching, healing, and driving out demons. In Mark 6:30, the disciples report what happened when they practiced. Report times are essential to encouraging obedience. They are especially essential in the early stages of establishing new habits and practices.
Ultimately, discipling efforts will take a shift in our focus and intentionality, as teachers and as attenders. When teachers focus here, suddenly the class begins to give more attention. When class members begin to share testimonies of what is happening, others will be encouraged to take seriously what is taught and understand they are expected to practice it.
What would you add to these seven ideas for encouraging the development of an expectation for and pattern and practice of obedience? Press Comments below and share your ideas with others. Lead them to obey. Teach to change lives. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!