Revolutionary Sunday School is so much more than teaching. In fact, it is more than teaching and learning. It is about lives touched and changed. It is about Jesus making a difference in lives of attenders and through them to the community and world. It is about God speaking through His Word to individuals who in that moment of encounter recognize a holy God and realize their need to bow, worship, and respond. In other words, it is about examining scripture, listening to His personalized message, and applying it to who we are and how we live.
When scripture is examined, it is essential to set it into context in order to understand the Lord’s message to the original hearers/readers. But then that message-in-context must be applied to today and to me. Revolutionary Sunday School is more than a historical study of the days, times, customs, people, and circumstances of a book called the Bible. When we open God’s Word, He has a message for today as well. The truth is relevant for life today.
I want to suggest a simple three-step process which joins application and story in a way that encourages change to happen as a result of an encounter with God in Bible study. Consider these steps:
- THIS WEEK’S CONCLUDING APPLICATION. Each lesson should be built to lead attenders to apply one truth to their lives. The session should be designed to lead them to determine how they will respond as a result of meeting God in His Word. Participants should understand how the truth impacts them and their lives. And they should be led to led to consider what an appropriate action/response would be. They should consider action/response options and choose the one they sense God desires. And commit themselves to Him (and each other) to pursue it with His help (and theirs). The teacher will note and may write down to remember the responses.
- NEXT WEEK’S OPENING FOLLOW UP. At the end of last week’s lesson, attenders committed themselves to respond obediently to what God said through study of His Word. It is appropriate to begin this week’s lesson by asking how they did at living out the commitment. Without that question, there is no follow up of the commitment. There is no positive reinforcement to keep the promises made to God. There is no encouragement to move toward obedience, toward the change God desires. Such a question leads attenders to realize that the lesson is about more than knowledge and feeling good–it is about living differently as a result of an encounter with God in His Word.
- SHARING STORIES. The medium of life change is a testimony. It is sharing our stories with each other. When we encounter God in Bible study and are led to act differently, the story of our act of obedience should be told. The teacher and class members should desire to hear these stories. And the teacher can encourage the telling by asking how they did at living out the commitment to last week’s truth. At first, members may need reminders during the week to keep their commitments and to come prepared to tell what happened. But soon members will be telling the stories the moment others arrive. Often you won’t be able to wait until the lesson has officially started before they will be sharing. In fact, they may be sharing the stories during the week. God becomes real and active in the life of the class. As a result, they have fresh testimonies to share with friends and people in the community. That excitement become attractive. Learners become interested in studying God’s Word together and in their daily quiet time. They want a fresh interaction with a real God who makes a difference in their lives.
What part of the marriage of application and story is missing in your lessons? What can you do to strengthen this three-step process this week? Where can you start? Pray. Prepare your lessons well. Plan for life change. Lead them to apply the truth. Challenge t hem to make a commitment to God to obey. Lead them to keep their promises. Hold them accountable. Lead them to follow up. Get them sharing their stories. Be revolutionary!