Jesus sent us into our world to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). In Discipling Outcomes from Sunday School, Part 1, I listed fourteen discipling outcomes which have potential to result from Sunday School. In this series thus far, these are the posts with the Sunday School discipling issues addressed:
- Part 2 (biblical knowledge and understanding); Part 3(Christian worldview); Part 4 (spiritual disciplines); Part 5(obedience); Part 6 (life and behavior practices); Part 7(spiritual gifts and church body practices); Part 8 (love of God, neighbor, and self); Part 9 (connection, community, fellowship); Part 10 (leadership training); Part 11 (service); Part 12 (mission and ministry)
In Part 13, I will focus on ways a Sunday School class (or small group) can impact discipling through inviting and sharing Jesus. Consider this: what should disciples look like? What should they be doing? Who should they be like? The Great Commission makes it plain:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you….
What are these disciples to look like? They are to “observe everything” Jesus has “commanded you.” They are to look like the Jesus in you. Thus, our goal in Sunday School is to make disciples of Jesus who are sent out into the world to make disciples of Jesus. Every person who has accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord has this responsibility. It is not limited to those with the gift or office of evangelism. We are to teach them to observe everything He commanded “us.”
Sunday School can teach praying for lost, unreached friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors. Sunday School can then encourage (even challenge) attenders to invest some time each day or week in conversations with lost, unreached people along life’s paths. The class can set up times of food and fellowship to build relationships with each other and to invite guests.
The class should be prepared to greet guests well. Most guests will have been invited. Thom Rainer in Surprising Insights from the Unchurched states that 82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend if invited. More than 80% of those who come to church will have been invited. Members could focus on inviting someone to class, a meal, or a class fellowship each week. And when guests attend, special effort is needed to follow up on the time. Contact made within 72 hour after being in class provides great opportunity for answering questions, inviting to return, praying, meeting needs, and sharing Jesus. Contact should not end after the first week. It should continue based upon care.
Lessons should be simple to understand. This does not mean “shallow.” Instead, the focus is making sure everyone present (including guests) understands our language and teaching. Extra effort should be made to explain terms or ideas which might not be clear. All lessons should point toward the Gospel. The teacher and members will want to be extend an invitation to respond to the truth of the lesson, including accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Lessons should naturally lead to obedience and living out the truth in daily life. Such radical obedience will open up conversation about our lives, language, and love. Members will want to be prepared to point not to good discipline but rather to Jesus.
The teacher can lead adult and youth classes through a time of sharing Sunday School and salvation testimonies in pairs in order to send attenders out prepared to do so (for ideas, check out 101 Ways for Sunday School to Be Evangelistic, Part 9 Testimonies). Short testimonies are great conversational bridges to sharing Jesus. A great way to encourage the class to utilize this training is to set a time and date for a ministry or outreach projects. Check out Sunday School: Take the Love Dare for one idea.
When a class practices these inviting and evangelistic actions, is the class stronger? Yes. When the class practices these actions, do attenders make spiritual progress as disciples? Yes. Does the church benefit? Yes. Are lives changed in the class, community, and world? Yes. Challenge your members to invite and share Jesus. Expect them to do so. Prepare them to do so. Watch them grow. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!