Jesus 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 in each post:
- Part 2 (biblical knowledge and understanding); Part 3(Christian worldview); Part 4 (spiritual disciplines); Part 5(obedience); Part 6 (life and behavior practices); Part 7(spiritual gifts and church body practices); Part 8 (love of God, neighbor, and self)
In Part 9, I will focus on ways a Sunday School class (or small group) can impact discipling through connection, community, and fellowship. Relationships matter! Look around you. Who are the people in your circles of influence? Who are those friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors in your network of relationships and daily life walk? Our Lord has placed you uniquely in the center of those circles to have impact for Him.
Developing those relationships for Jesus is an act of discipleship! Praying for people is an act of discipleship! Sharing Jesus and helping those who accept Jesus take steps to share Jesus is an act of discipleship!
What are you doing as a class to challenge, prepare, encourage, and help our class members to invest in lost and unenrolled relationships for Jesus? In the blog post, 101 Ways for Sunday School to Be Evangelistic, Part 2 Relational, I offered ten suggestions:
1. FOCUS. Be evangelistic with everyone, but focus prayer, care, and attention toward 1-3 unsaved/unchurched/unenrolled individuals. Get to know them.
2. TIME. Care is best expressed through time. Schedule time with lost people. Attend events with them. Take them with you on errands and trips. Build trust.
3. COFFEE/DESSERT. This can be for getting acquainted as well as for ongoing relationship-building. Grab coffee. Get ice cream. Relax. Listen more than you talk. Listen for moments when you can respond in care.
4. EAT. Everyone eats. Invite lost people to a meal. Catch lunch during the busy day. Have a relaxing meal in the home or a restaurant. Plan a picnic. Food has a way of making the conversation more relaxed and casual.
5. COMMUNICATE. Keep in touch. Text. Email. Call. Send a card or letter. Express care. Ask questions. Share concerns. Recommend resources.
6. CELEBRATE. Discover special days like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Take time to acknowledge those days. Send a note. Make a call. Show up in person. Send a gift. Show you care.
7. AFFINITY. Find out what both of you enjoy doing. It may be biking, bowling, model planes, cooking, or any other affinity. Make time to enjoy the common activity together. Look for the teachable moment when you can share what Jesus and Sunday School mean to you.
8. STUDY TOGETHER. Read books together and discuss them (like Purpose Driven Life). Take a course together at church, in the community, or a college. Study a Bible book or passage together. You will discover much about each other as you study together.
9. MINISTER. Listen for and be sensitive to stress-filled times in life. Reach out in care. Send a card during grief. Mow the grass. Listen to pain. Help find a new job. Pay a utility payment. When appropriate share the love of God. Talk about how you are surrounded by people who care in your Sunday School class.
10. INVITE. Find special reasons to invite to class fellowships, projects, and sessions. Share about upcoming topics and plans. Offer to pick him/her up. Don’t pressure or try to guilt. Simply care.
Let me invite you to begin by asking the class to list the relationships in their circles followed by a season of prayer for those individuals. After prayer, help your class practice writing and sharing their salvation testimony (check out this post for more ideas: 101 Ways for Sunday School to Be Evangelistic, Part 9 Testimonies). Then help them learn a simple Gospel presentation. It also helps to learn a simple bridge statement for transitioning from their testimony to the Gospel presentation. Finally, every Christian should immediately begin to teach others what they have learned (teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19-20).
You can influence discipleship by leading your class to invest in connections, community, and fellowship for the purpose of sharing Jesus. Not only will the lives of those touched be changed, but so will the lives of your class members as they pray, connect, and share. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!