As I have said repeatedly in the previous three blog entries, we should expect Sunday School to accomplish more. We have examined the Inward and Outward categories of spiritual disciplines listed by Richard Foster in his book, Celebration of Discipline. Today, let’s examine the spiritual disciplines he categorizes as Corporate: confession, worship, guidance, and celebration:
CONFESSION. Foster says, “The Discipline of confession brings an end to pretense.” Real trust is often hard to build in Sunday School. We act like we have no problems. We fail to apply the truth of God’s Word to our lives. And all the time, we are struggling and in need of help that we won’t ask for–each other or God. Confession admits we don’t have it all together. Confession helps others own and admit their problems and struggles. Confession brings honesty and openness into the relationship. It says, “I feel comfortable with you in revealing myself. I trust how you will respond.” How could Sunday School support and encourage this spiritual discipline? Again, small steps are often necessary first. What if each lesson there was a brief time when the group pairs off to share a time when they have struggled with the truth of the lesson? What if there were accountability partners in class that checked on one another each week? What if class members signed a covenant that assured care, faithfulness, trust, and confidentiality?
WORSHIP. Worship is more than a service. It is an act of devotion to God. It is recognition of His greatness and presence. It is humbly bowing in reverence and awe before His majesty. It is presenting our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). It is opening his Word and listening. It is when two or three believers gather in the name of Jesus. How can Sunday School strengthen this spiritual discipline? What if the class challenged members to have daily quiet times? What if the teacher pointed to the open chair and recognized our Lord’s presence and help as the class opens His Word? What if the class is called to meet God in Bible study rather than just study a book called the Bible–there is a difference?
GUIDANCE. It is “attuning to and allowing the influence of the Holy Spirit to direct our lives.” “The discipline of seeking guidance goes to the heart of walking with God. Guidance involves us hearing..and obeying Him. It is…a constant way of life. God provides guidance to His people in two ways. One is individual guidance…divine instruction through Scripture, reason, circumstances, and through prompting of the Spirit….In corporate guidance, God guides groups of people who gather in fellowship to seek the will of God.” Seeking God’s guidance means giving up control. It means turning to Him in complete trust. It means, like Abram, going with God even when we don’t know where. How could Sunday School support this spiritual discipline? How about moments of silent prayer during application times? How about class prayer for His leadership and guidance? How about prayer or accountability partners who encourage each other to seek and trust Him more?
CELEBRATION. In Philippians 4:4 (NIV), Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Foster writes, “Celebration is central to all the Spiritual Disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity the Disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisee s.” God and His many blessings are reason enough for celebration. Celebration is full of praise. It is an expression of joy and fun. It is enjoying the moment and His presence. Henri Nouwen wrote, “Joy and laughter are gifts of living in the presence of God and trusting that tomorrow is not worth worrying about.” How can Sunday School reinforce the spiritual discipline of celebration? Have fun! Praise God! Point out reasons for thanksgiving and give Him thanks. Celebrate special days together. Again, have fun!
What would result in your class if you began to work on these spiritual disciplines? For the three previous blog entries on spiritual disciplines, check out Sunday School Supporting Spiritual Disciplines, Part 1, Sunday School Supporting Spiritual Disciplines, Part 2, and Sunday School Supporting Spiritual Disciplines, Part 3. What if you worked on reinforcing one spiritual discipline each month or each quarter? Try it and expect growth! Expect more from Sunday School. Be revolutionary!