This is post nineteen response to twenty questions asked in Questions about Making Disciples Through Sunday School. The questions are about how Sunday School can help the church carry out the command of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20) to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Question nineteen is this one:
What if every attender was expected to serve, to minister, to go, to share with others what they know of Jesus?
Becoming a disciple of Jesus is not having more information; it’s about transformation. It’s not about learning; it’s about living like Jesus. In many ways, this question gets to the root of the issue for attenders. Last post, Sunday School Teacher: Desperate for God, may have gotten to the root for the teacher. In some ways, a teacher who is desperate for God as described in that post is doing what this post is about: sharing Jesus to others. The truth is, all of these posts are related. You cannot separate slices of disciple-making.
The end result desired is an individual who encounters God in His Word who is changed inside and out. That change is expressed in how he/she lives. That change is unmistakably seen by those in his/her daily walk and circle of influence. I was reading Ephesians and a verse is appropriate here. Paul says, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1, NIV). The calling is to an abundant life made only possible through Jesus. For more information about life change, check out What Can Sunday School Do to Impact Life Change?.
But how can a teacher and class help an individual take steps in that direction? How can expectations be initiated and raised in such a way that they are accepted, owned, and pursued? Many of the discipleship actions shared in the previous eighteen posts lead in this direction: inviting, sharing Jesus, sharing testimonies, fellowships, increasing daily intake of God’s Word, learning retention, teaching methods, class size, class arrangement, learner preparation, learner application, increasing session length, expectations, time beyond the session, application reporting, spiritual disciplines, and desperateness for God. For more information about raising expectations, check out Raising Sunday School Expectations without Losing Your Hair.
But ownership is essential. That is why the teacher must be a facilitator of an encounter with God rather than only testifying about his/her encounter or preparation. God in His Word has the power to change lives. The teacher must get out of the way and let God speak. The teacher must lead attenders to open and listen to God’s Word. That is the source of power and motivation. For more information about facilitating an encounter with God, check out Sunday School’s Neglect of the Second Encounter, Part 10A and Sunday School’s Neglect of the Second Encounter, Part 10B.
In addition to this, planning and involvement in reaching, teaching-learning, and caring should seek to build ownership. For more information about leading a class toward ownership, check out Sixth Step Toward Sunday School Class Change: Ownership. The teacher should not do all the work for the class or individuals. Nor should any individual be allowed to rest upon the work of others. Even expectations should be mutual. Attenders should have high expectations of each other as well. This may mean working together upon a class covenant. For more information, check out Benefits of a Covenant for a Revolutionary Sunday School Class.
Want to measure your progress as a class? Want to check on spiritual development? Want to know if your discipleship efforts are having any impact? Measure what you can see. Are lives changed? What are they talking about? What stories are they telling? Are they serving more often and enjoying it more? Are they meeting needs in the class and beyond? Are they going to others rather than waiting for people to come to them? Are they sharing what they know of Jesus and God’s Word with others? Yes, there is more than what can be seen and measured, but if all measurement evidence is missing then discipleship progress probably is as well. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!