I read a great article by John Ewart entitled The Intentional Sunday School. In the article, Dr. Ewart says, “The church must intentionally move forward in her worship (both public and private, including prayer), her witness (evangelism/missions), her walk (discipleship/education), her work (ministry), and her welcome (fellowship).” These are the five purposes of the church, which can be found in Acts 2, but I really liked the way Ewart’s words begin with W’s.
Effective Sunday School work can easily become unbalanced. All five of these purposes must be pursued. Which purpose is weak in your Sunday School? Consider the following purposes using Dr. Ewart’s words in bold followed by my commentary:
WORSHIP. The bottom line of worship is recognizing the greatness of God. Jesus has promised to be present when two or three gather in His name. When a group opens His Word, they seek to meet Him in Bible study. It should be more than a lesson about biblical history or a book called the Bible. It should be an encounter with the living God. Prayer is vital to the impact of Sunday School in the lives of members and prospects. Sunday School has a significant role in the church’s WORSHIP efforts.
WITNESS. This is a natural for revolutionary Sunday School. When organized by age group or life stage, Sunday School intentionally claims responsibility for lost and unenrolled individuals. Also, Andy Anderson used to say that on average only 1 out of 342 lost persons who attend worship only will accept Jesus in 12 months while 1 out of 3 lost persons who attend Sunday School will accept Jesus in 12 months. There are many tools revolutionary Sunday School uses to witness and reach out: the open chair, inviting guests to enroll, visits and contacts, zone offense (Josh Hunt), a Sunday School testimony, new classes, and even inviting guests to class fellowships and projects. In addition to all of these, the study of God’s Word leads to changed lives! Sunday School has a key role in WITNESS in the church.
WALK. Like witness, WALK (discipleship) is a natural for revolutionary Sunday School. Sunday School is a great place to learn together about God, His Word, His will, and His ways and our response to Him in this world. Its organization by age group helps teaching to have more life impact as attenders learn to obey what Jesus has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). Sunday School provides an environment for positive accountability. It helps to reinforce the spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, prayer, scripture memorization, etc. Sunday School plays a vital, foundational role in WALK in the church.
WORK. Sunday School has a vital role in meeting needs. Sunday School is organized in small groups and leaders are tasked to discover and address needs and minister in times of stress and crisis. The medium of relationships naturally aids response. A Sunday School roll is a ministry list. Appropriate, responsive ministry efforts can prevent members from dropping out and lead to recovery of dropouts and engaging prospects. Thus, Sunday School has a vital role in church WORK (ministry) efforts.
WELCOME. Relationships with God, each other, and others are the medium of Sunday School. Welcome (fellowship) experiences in class and between classes in social times and ministry and outreach projects can engage relationships. Sunday School fellowship efforts seek to engage members, absentees, and guests with each other and God. Class greeters, name tags, and care groups are but a few of the ways classes can strengthen the WELCOME work of the church.
How’s the balance in your Sunday School? Which is your strength: worship, witness, walk, work, or welcome? Which is your weakness? What can you do to strengthen your effectiveness and balance? Pray. Assess. Focus. Work. Be revolutionary!
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