***Creating a Transformational Sunday School is a series developed by one of our Featured Contributors, Joshua Schmidt***
Creating a Transformational Sunday School
I remember very few sermons that I heard when I was young child.
I can’t point to very many powerful illustrations or moments in which the application of the message really stuck with me.
However, I do remember the foundational truths I learned in my Sunday school classes.
I remember the experiences I had with my fellow classmates as we learned important stories such as Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Samson and Delilah, and Jesus feeding the 5000.
I still fondly remember learning about David and Goliath and how our God is bigger than a Philistine Giant!
From the highs of God parting the waters through Moses to the lows of the crucifixion of our savior, I was instilled with the truth of the Word of God. These lessons helped shape me into the Christian I am and gave me a strong, Biblical foundation that I still lean on today.
Sunday School is now among the most neglected ministries in the church.
This has been a major issue, as there really is no better gauge to the health of a church than Sunday school.
I have a particular interest in seeing our Sunday school departments grow as I am a Sunday school director at First Baptist Church in Grayson, Kentucky. I serve at a “small church” that averages around 110-130 in Sunday school each week. At FBC Grayson, we have made strides in our department but there is always more work to do.
As a Sunday school minister, you constantly have to push back against the mindset that “I am too old to go to school”.
There is also the belief that Sunday school is archaic or no longer necessary for a growing church. I couldn’t disagree more with that sentiment.
I know, firsthand, that a thriving Sunday school department is one of the pillars of a solid church. Sunday school is a place of fellowship and worship.
In my experience, a thriving Sunday school department needs 3 things.
1. A gospel-centered message.
2. A willingness to evangelize.
3. A willingness to disciple.
A Thriving Sunday School
There has never been more excellent, Gospel-centered Sunday school material than there is now. I now look at Lifeway each quarter like a kid in a candy store! We have lessons that are rich in content with powerful messages. There is material for every age and stage of life. It’s of the utmost importance that we present our Sunday school participants with a Gospel-centered message.
Maybe you attend a church that doesn’t have the budget to go out and buy material for your department.
If that’s the case, I would highly encourage you to construct your lessons around firm Biblical truths. Also, there are lots of free resources to be found on the internet that will help supplement your lessons. Whatever you use, center it around scripture. We will include some of these in later lessons.
Sunday school needs to be looked at as the first outreach of the local church.
Many attendees will hear the transformational message of Christ for the first time in our classrooms. We can’t let that opportunity slip away. It’s so important that we provide students with evangelistic teachers who have a heart for the gospel. The classroom is the first door in for the church and if our teachers aren’t presenting the gospel, our students will be less responsive during our worship services. Evangelistic teachers are a must for a growing church.
The apostle Paul, when speaking to the church at Ephesus said:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers”. (Ephesians 4:11 KJV)
Teachers have to look on their responsibility with importance.
God has given the church and its congregants a wide variety of gifting’s and responsibilities.
Some of us have been gifted with the ability to teach.
It is our responsibility to help disciple our fellow members. This is why I think it’s so important to have open doors and open discussions in our classrooms. Classrooms can be a place where we work through our thoughts and beliefs together with the ultimate goal of being a part of a Christ-centered church that is on fire for the souls of our communities.
If we can get our Sunday school departments on track, we will begin to see a church that isn’t in retreat, but is thriving!
Until we refocus on the importance of Sunday school within our congregations, we will continue to see casual Christians with no attachment to the church or its Savior.