Why does your class exist? What are you trying to accomplish? If your class were to end, would the lack of its impact be felt? Which of the five purposes of the church does your class help your church accomplish: evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and worship?
Let me challenge you to “repurpose” your class this year. There are several ways you can look at the word “repurpose.” First, you can see it as a call to sign up again to pursue the purposes for which your class was started. Second, you can see it as evaluating your pursuit of the purposes and adjusting your course to be even more effective in the year ahead. Third, you can see it as redesigning how you will do business, how you will pursue those purposes this year. Which of these seems to fit your class best?
Church Warnock has written a thought-provoking blog entry entitled Five Ideas for Repurposing Your Sunday School. He is the pastor of a Virginia church with about 100 in worship attendance. In the entry, Chuck used the word, “repurpose,” in the way he first heard it used on HGTV: revitalizing or using Sunday School in a fresh way. While I don’t agree with all of his ideas, consider his five ideas (in all capitals) and my comments which follow:
- TAKE THE SCHOOL OUT OF SUNDAY SCHOOL. This is especially relevant for youth and young adults. Make it fun. Make the experience interactive, experiential. Get everyone involved. Sunday School should be training for application and obedience anyway (Matthew 28:20). Avoid a steady diet of lecture. Chuck suggests, “Repurpose your Sunday morning with hands-on experiences in helping, fellowship, service, and learning.” After all, as pastors and teachers, we are “to prepare God’s people for works of service” (Ephesians 4:12).
- SCHEDULE SHORT-TERM EXPERIENCES RATHER THAN YEAR-ROUND SUNDAY SCHOOL. This may work well in a small church where everyone knows everyone, but as the church grows beyond 50 attenders, it becomes more difficult to keep up with who those who drop out. Short-term groups can initially cause more excitement and encourage more invitations but short-term topics and starting and stopping often results in people attending only when the topic is of interest. Instead, why not offer a special study during an ongoing Sunday School class (twice a year) and invite absentees and lots of prospects?
- ADD SERVICE PROJECTS TO THE SUNDAY MORNING HOUR.Some will struggle with Chuck’s suggestion because of it being on Sunday. What if the body of Christ acted out His love in the community on Sunday? What if the world were to see His love in action on Sunday? What if those who encountered Jesus’ body were to desire to know more about them and about Him? We should also note that some attenders are also active learners who would learn more about God’s Word and ways by serving than they ever could in a classroom. Also, men frequently will bond more in serving than in a social experience.
- EXPAND TO OFF-CAMPUS SETTINGS. What if you took your Bible study to a coffee shop, restaurant, or park? What if you asked your servers how you could pray for them? What if offering Bible study in a new place caused attenders to invite new friends to join the group? What if guests you invited to the off-campus setting would consider joining the group only because it was not at church? Now, I would encourage you not to move the group around to new places too frequently so that it confuses attenders. If we don’t take Bible study to the world, many will never come to us. Consider starting an off-campus group this year!
- SCHEDULE SPECIAL SUNDAY MORNINGS. Plan high-attendance Sunday in Sunday School. Fix a breakfast and invite the whole church. Invite a special speaker and let the whole church know. Plan a special teacher-appreciation event before Sunday School and invite everyone to come express their thanks. Recognize the pastor on his fifth anniversary at the church. Be creative in looking for opportunities to invite people to a party and to Sunday School.
Through which of the five repurposing areas could your class accomplish more for the Kingdom this year? What steps could you take in the next month to bring it about? Who should you involve? Pray. Plan. Repurpose. Try something new. Be revolutionary!