Eddy led her ladies Sunday School class to go to the community—literally. They moved their class to a senior adult multi-housing community on Sunday morning. When they focused more on the mission of God than where they had Bible study, God used them and is still using them in a great way to impact their city. They soon had a burden for children in nearby apartments and began tutoring them after school. Some took part in a ministry for children with terminal illnesses. The stories go on and on. Eddy is a vibrant leader, but she probably would not say that of herself.
“God is not calling leaders to be great. He is calling leaders to become platforms on which God displays His greatness.” Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer use these words to describe vibrant leadership in transformational churches. I think the same is true of Sunday School leaders.
Vibrant or transformational leaders understand the church exists for the mission of God. Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer admit vibrant leadership requires a shift in thinking that leads the whole church to engage in the mission of God, locally and globally. The old model of leadership focused on hoarding or retaining control. Transformational leaders seek to empower and multiply. Rainer and Stetzer described four shifts in thinking that must take place. They also apply to Sunday School.
- From one to many leaders – Vibrant leaders understand the importance of every man and every woman.
- From “me” to “we.” – Vibrant leaders know every person can be used to fulfill God’s mission.
- From personal empowerment to people empowerment – Vibrant leaders are not only prepared to give away ministry, but enjoy doing so.
- From church to the kingdom of God – Vibrant leaders are as concerned with the wider work of the kingdom of God as they are with the localized work of their class or the congregation. They know the kingdom of God births the church. Vibrant Sunday School leaders won’t complain if someone connects with another class or even another church. They are focused on helping build the kingdom of God beginning here on this earth.
Transformational leadership environments also value a team approach to ministry, a sharper mission focus, and new leadership priorities. These new leadership priorities advance leaders through the following steps:
- I join Him on mission (encounter level)
- I lead others to join Him on mission (influence level)
- I lead others to lead others, to join Him on mission (leading leaders level)
- I lead others to lead others to lead others to join Him on mission (movement level)
At this “movement” level you will see large numbers of people converted to Christ and new churches started. The movement of God moves so far so fast away from the original leader that he cannot possibly get credit for the results. The major shift here is to a God-sized vision. Rainer and Stetzer describe this shift as from, “What if I can pick an apple for God?” to “What if I can influence leaders in multiple orchards to pick apples for God?” These multiple orchards will produce and harvest fruit for multiple generations of people groups everywhere. Think about the impact one class can have when they are part of a missional movement.
Remember, God is not calling leaders to be great. He is calling leaders to become platforms on which God displays His greatness. Let God show off through your Sunday School class!
Belinda Jolley serves as the Director of the Adult Ministry Office of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Belinda and her husband, Steve, enjoy starting new classes at First Baptist Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina
Transformational Class: Transformational Church
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Goes to SundaySchool by David Francis
Chapter 4 (pages 71-98) of Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations by Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer.