I realize that many younger churches don’t have facilities for on-campus small groups known as “Sunday School,” but this small group approach still works well for those churches that do have the space. Indeed, I won’t be surprised if more churches move back in this direction (without the “Sunday school” nomenclature) if/when they secure adequate facilities. Here’s why:
- It offers Bible training for all members of the family. Through Sunday school, your church can teach everyone from preschoolers to senior adults—all within the same hour.
- It promotes all four aspects that lead to good assimilation. Our research has shown that effective assimilation occurs when a church offers relationships, involvement, expectations, and convictional teaching and preaching (click here to learn more). A good Sunday school class with an effective teacher can offer all four elements.
- It provides systematic, intentional Bible study for attenders. Think in terms of a strategy that walks attenders through the Bible in 3-5 years. Few ministries and organizations provide a ready-made, tested process for doing so like Sunday school does.
- It supports corporate worship. It doesn’t always happen, but a strong Sunday school that meets prior to or immediately after a worship hour tends to contribute to increased worship attendance.
- It builds relationships in the church. This point, of course, magnifies one point of #2 above. It’s in the small group structure of Sunday school that we connect with people who become the “glue” that ties us to the local body.
- It opens the door for many to serve. Few ministries offer as many opportunities for service within one setting (e.g., teacher, assistant teacher, secretary, outreach leader, discipleship leader, care group leader, prayer leader, greeter, refreshment coordinator, etc., etc.). A well-designed Sunday school class can offer as many roles as the number of people who attend.
- It contributes to the church’s discipleship strategy. When the curriculum is clearly connected to the church’s overall discipleship plan, it becomes one piece of the larger discipleship puzzle.
- It provides an open door to evangelism. Historically, in fact, this was the purpose of Sunday school. We’ve lost that primary focus in some ways, but we must not lose it entirely. A good Sunday school class should still be a welcoming place for the seeker who has questions about the gospel.
Sunday school works, if we’re willing to do the hard work it demands. I happen to be one person who thinks it’s worth the effort.