I have often heard Sunday School referred to as “the church organized to carry out the Great Commission.” What does that mean? It means that Sunday School can undergird the work of the church in some signifcant ways to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). Sunday School impacts lives through “baptizing” and “teaching them to obey.”
The community in Sunday School is more than a group a friends. They are people you can call on in time of need. They are people you can trust. They are encouragers who pick you up when you are down. They are challengers who believe the best about you and hold you accountable to stretch yourself to become all you can. And this nurturing atmosphere is open. New friends and acquaintances are invited all the time.
Besides that, Sunday School is organized to reach out, deepen relationships, meet one another’s needs, and serve people in the world:
- REACHING. Classes set goals to invite more people. They are encouraged to invite them to class, to fellowships, and to their homes. In class, one out of two or three lost Sunday School attenders accept Jesus in twelve months. New classes tend to invite people even more than existing classes.
- RELATIONSHIPS. Interaction before and after class establishes and deepens relationships. Planned and spontaneous fellowships lead to new and deeper friendships. Participatory teaching methods lead attenders to discover affinities and common interests. Sharing conversation about the intersection of biblical truth and real life issues leads to trust, the foundation of meaningful relationships.
- MEETING NEEDS. Relationships lead to caring beyond feelings to action. Some caring occurs out of those relationships in spontaneous way. There is a natural desire to respond in times of need. But Sunday School does not take this for granted and risk a lack of response. Care groups communicate, discover needs, and mobilize to meet needs. Prayer chains are initiated. Response teams (like grief, birth, illness, and others) are organized in advance of their need.
- SERVING. Sunday School classes regularly minister to people who are not members of the church. They reach out at least quarterly in service and outreach projects. They encourage every attender to find a place of service in the church, community, and/or world. They listen. They care. They love others actively in Jesus’ name.
I will soon be travelling halfway around the world to encourage some believers in their Sunday School work. It will be the longest time I have ever been away from my wife and family. It has taken a lot of time to prepare to make the trip. Several shots and medications were required. It will take parts of three days to get there and two days to return. The experience will place me on sensory overload. Understanding one another will be challenging. I anticipate that meetings will require more time and attention than I have.
Afresh and anew I have been and will be drawn to my knees. I expect to be stretched beyond my human limits of strength and energy. I will have to depend upon God, His leadership, His presence, His strength, and His help. But it is in these moments that I enjoy ministry the most because I serve a big God who is more than able to provide everything necessary for doing His will (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Perhaps you have no plans to travel halfway around the world. But how far should your class go to make disciples of all nations? To whom is God sending you? What part does He want you to play in baptizing and teaching them to obey? What is your first step? When will you start? Listen to His still small voice. Pray for His leadership. Be revolutionary!