Revolutionary Sunday School has a significant part to play in helping the church to carry out her purposes. One of my favorite biblical passages that illustrates the purposes of the church is Acts 2. There we see the five purposes of evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and worship. Some like to add prayer and giving. I tend to include prayer as a significant part of worship and giving as an act of worship and evidence of discipleship.
So how does the revolutionary Sunday School contribute to carrying out the purposes? While a whole chapter of a book could be written on each purpose, consider these brief descriptions:
- EVANGELISM. 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 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. Sunday School has a key role in evangelism in the church.
- DISCIPLESHIP. Like evangelism, 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 accountability. It helps to reinforce the spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, prayer, scripture memorization, etc. Sunday School plays a vital, foundational role in discipleship in the church.
- FELLOWSHIP. Relationships with God, each other, and others are the medium of Sunday School. 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 fellowship work of the church.
- MINISTRY. 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 ministry efforts.
- 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. Thus, Sunday School should also have a role in the church’s worship efforts.
No, Sunday School cannot do it all by itself, but it has a strategic role in helping the church to carry out her purposes. Sunday School should do all of her work in a spirit of prayer, seeking God’s leadership. This kind of Sunday School is indeed revolutionary. So be revolutionary!