There are no surprise attacks in most Sunday Schools anymore. Those outside Sunday School are no longer surprised by those who do attend. There is too much similarity in their lives and attitudes. Attenders seldom practice living holy lives. They sin, cheat, divorce, and lie too much like the world. Kindness is missing. Invitations are absent.
Many Sunday Schools and classes enjoy being together. They have good fellowship with each other. But they have no plan for bringing more people into the class. They are content the way things are. No goals have been set. No plans have been made for inviting friends, relatives, associates, or neighbors. Fellowship activities are planned, but no prospects are invited. Contact information is not collected when guests do attend because there will be no attempt to follow up. Prayer for lost and unchurched people is general. No one is prayed for by name. Members occasionally give money to meet the need of a person who is not a member, but no invitation is given to accompany the help.
Far too many have become inwardly-focused. They are only concerned about the needs of those who gather every week, the regulars, the members. They spend all their money on themselves. They stopped inviting people to their classes years ago and are surprised when guests attend. No additional literature is ordered for or given to guests. All ministry efforts and prayers are focused on each other. In many ways, members of these Sunday Schools are in survival mode and have no purpose except the habit of gathering and caring for each other.
For too long now, Sunday Schools have ignored the needs of those who are not members. They have ignored the needs of the community and world. They have ignored the needs of the unchurched and those who have never accepted a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Practiced for years, that neglect has become habit, one that is difficult to change. Attitudes have become set. Sunday School has become comfortable in not pursuing the Great Commission, in not making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).
The result of this ignorance of needs has led to not caring aboutpeople and not for people. Not caring for them carries consequences in this life and the life to come. Not caring for the unchurched and the lost shows how little we care about what God has done for us—for we were once separated from Him. When we know the cure for the disease of sin that consumes them, we show how lightly we consider the responsibility and privilege that is ours as bearers of His light. In truth, not showing our care for the unchurched and the lost shows how little we care for each other and for ourselves.
Not caring for them also has eternal consequences. Our lack of care will likely contribute to some who never accept a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. They will spend eternity separated from a loving God. But that’s not all. In addition to losing them from heaven, they are lost from serving as workers in the harvest. The Kingdom and church needs more people to carry out the Great Commandment. The job is vast and the workers are few. Jesus even acknowledged that fact and called on his followers to pray for more workers (Matthew 9:37-38). As a result, there is a shortage of workers in the harvest. Some of the lost and unchurched would have accepted the grace offered through Jesus Christ. They would have been gloriously saved. And in due time, they would have employed their gifts in Kingdom service. They would have helped to build up the church.
Some of them might have become Sunday School teachers, outreach leaders, apprentices, Sunday School directors, pastors, deacons, and other church leaders. Instead, the Sunday School and church has to adapt without them. And since the lost and unchurched are no t saved, not available to build up the church, and not able to go into the harvest, they cannot help the church reach still other people who are lost to hell. The consequences have an increasingly negative cyclical effect.
And there are still yet more consequences. The consequences are not only focused upon those who were not won—as if those consequences were not enough. But there are also consequences for followers of Jesus Christ who spurn His commands, are apathetic about the Kingdom, and who ignore those for whom He gave His life. There are blessings that are missed on earth and in heaven. On earth, the opportunity to see God at work through our lives in the act of obediently sharing the faith is missed. The opportunity to minister, to give, and to care is missed. The opportunity for fellowship with new believers and to see God at work in and through their lives is missed. In heaven, the opportunity for additional crowns is missed along with the blessing of seeing those who would have joined us.
The hour is late. The lost are on a course to death and hell. The church is in need of more harvesters. Neglect of care for the lost must be addressed. Change is needed. The time is now.