What are your expectations of Sunday School? What do you believe can be accomplished through Sunday School? How could Sunday School reinforce spiritual disciplines in order to better disciple participants? In the previous entry, I led us to examine the Inward category of spiritual disciplines from Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline. In this entry, let’s examine the Outward category and how Sunday School could tackle these disciplines:
SIMPLICITY. Today, we hunger for the simple. That is part of the success of gadgets like iPods with few buttons. Our lives are too complicated, too full, too fast. Fast food and microwaves are not fast enough. We bite off too much, have too many priorities, and don’t know how to say no. We long to slow down, to simplify. How could Sunday School help attenders examine their lives, schedules, possessions, and priorities in order to strive for the spiritual discipline of simplicity? What if Sunday School challenged members to pray about how they could simplify their lives for 30 days? What if the class paired off into accountability partners (same gender) to help one another examine schedules and priorities? What if the the class studied the simplicity of Jesus’ life? Could Sunday School challenge attenders to live frugally for a month in order to give money to missions (good training for simplicity)?
SOLITUDE. Silence and solitude go together. Where in your life can you find silence? Our lives ara filled with busyness and noise. We are often afraid of silence. Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We read that “solitude is the practice of being absent from other people and other things so that you can be present with God.” When was the last time you were present with God? How can Sunday School reinforce this spiritual discipline? What would happen if every attender were asked to find a quiet place and spend 15+ minutes in the coming week to spend in solitude and silence, listening to God and then reported next Sunday? What if the teacher allowed 10 minutes of solitude at the end of the lesson or in the middle? What if the class offered a Saturday morning “Be Still” retreat?
SUBMISSION. Submission is giving up our way in favor of someone’s else’s way. It is an effort to move away from selfishness and selfcenteredness. It is self denial. It is following the example of Jesus who said, “nethertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42b, KJV). Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NIV). How could Sunday School encourage submission? How about challenging attenders to focus on others and listen to them even when they disagree? Could the class be encouraged to practice submission to spouses or parents for a month? Could accountability partners ask each other, “How have you practiced submission to God and others this week?”
SERVICE. Service and submission go well together. Jesus challenges us to minister unto the least of these. He challenges us to wash each others’ feet. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35, NIV). Service is a natural for Sunday School. Every adult class should have regularly scheduled times of service, of ministering to the needs of people, especially people not related to the class. Service projects should be scheduled at least quarter ly or even monthly. Seek input. Plan projects. Some can be one-time projects and others can be ongoing ones. Some can be local, and others can be beyond. Help your attenders to think and touch beyond the walls of class to the needs of people around them.
In the next blog entry, I’ll focus talk further about how Sunday School can lead members to practice other spiritual disciplines, particularly Corporate expressions. Check out Sunday School Supporting Spiritual Disciplines, Part 1, Sunday School Supporting Spiritual Disciplines, Part 2, and Sunday School Supporting Spiritual Disciplines, Part 4. Don’t just think about it. Do it! Lead your class attenders to Him through the spiritual disciplines! Don’t be ordinary. Be revolutionary!