When we move from teaching a lesson to making disciples, our focus changes. The measure is not how well the teacher did, and it is not even did they understand or like the lesson. No, the measure is whether followers of Jesus Christ are becoming more like Him, obeying what He commanded, and teaching others to do the same. We can see this clearly in Jesus’ command in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20): “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
I introduced this thought in a post entitled Questions about Making Disciples Through Sunday School. I also added to the mix reflections on Jesus’ example in making disciples: Discipling Through Sunday School Jesus’ Way, Part 1, Discipling Through Sunday School Jesus’ Way, Part 2, Discipling Through Sunday School Jesus’ Way, Part 3, and Discipling Through Sunday School Jesus’ Way, Part 4. Since that original post, I have been responding to the twenty questions I asked there.
Knowing that reporting was a key piece of Jesus’ strategy for disciplemaking (see Discipling Through Sunday School Jesus’ Way, Part 4), it should be part of ours as well. That’s why I asked question fifteen in Questions about Making Disciples Through Sunday School:
What would be the results if we began to ask attenders this week about what they did to apply last week’s lesson?
Until we teach (instruct) them to do the truth, send them out to do so, and call for a report, members will be learners rather than disciples. Setting up a report time is essential to attenders taking teachers seriously. When I know I am going to have to report, I am more likely to listen carefully to my instruction (from God and the teacher) about what I am being sent out to do.
This is set up by the teacher taking time as a part of the lesson to examine the scriptural context for the truth and lead attenders to apply that truth to their setting and lives. Then time must be given for attenders to respond to truth. What does God want them to do as a result of Bible study? What does He want attenders (including the teacher) to do, think, or feel differently? How can attenders exercise the truth? How can they put it into practice in their lives this week?
These questions require time for reflection. Some questions will require an honest struggle. Some will be difficult. Some attenders will have quick answers. But even more meaningful answers may lead to greater spiritual progress. Many lessons need more than one week to apply. But a reporting time needs to be set in advance. It can be adjusted later, if needed. In most cases, one week is enough time to allow for some obedient steps to be taken and a report to be shared. But when additional time is needed, remember to schedule it and call for a report at that time. Don’t forget!
Then next week, ask how they did. How did you do at keeping the promise you made to God? How did you do at carrying out what you said last week you were going to do in response to the lesson? What do you wish you had done differently. Affirm success. Affirm attempts. Learn from failure. Encourage when there is failure or difficulty. Discourage excuses, apathy, or lack of attempt. Confront one-on-one rather than in front of the group.
Don’t stop! Consistently call for reports. Raise expectations. Stop occasionally to affirm spiritual progress of individuals and the group. Remember, you are making disciples of Jesus Christ. It is important work. It is worth the work. It IS the work! Instruct. Send. Report. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!