Churches that want to help people become mature followers of Jesus use some type of small group ministry. Today I am going to write about the Sunday school model. Books have been written and conferences have been held on the topic of Sunday school. This post today is not meant to cover everything on the topic of Sunday school. I am writing a few thoughts from my experience of Sunday school. In my next post I will do the same thing about the modern small group model. Finally, I will wrap up this discussion with a “conclusion” on the church’s attempt to help people become mature followers of Jesus. So, not that my disclaimer is out there …

The Sunday school model is the one I have the most experience with. I attended Sunday school classes as a teenager, taught Sunday school classes, and have been the pastor of churches using the Sunday school model.

As a pastor of churches using this model, I encouraged people to get involved, used it to reach new people, and tried to make it more effective. There were some classes that really worked hard at teaching the Bible, building relationships among class members, and reaching new people. For the most part, at least from my perspective, that most classes were not as effective as they should have been. Many of the adult classes were pretty good at teaching the Bible; but not very effective at holding people accountable to living a godly life. Most Sunday school classes were great at sharing biblical truth. Don’t get me wrong; knowing the Bible is a good thing. I wanted Sunday school to be more than a Bible knowledge or trivia class. I wanted people to experience immediate life change that led them to become mature followers of Christ.

I observed that many of the classes with senior adults were very effective at caring for one another. They were also pretty good at teaching the Bible. Somewhere along the way the leaders of this classes understood the value of relationships and caring for each other. These classes got together outside of class to spend time with other. If someone in the group had an emergency (like surgery or death), the group would step up and help out with practical needs like providing food. Members of the group would visit the family. These folks really cared for each other. Those were their strengths. But, they were not as good in reaching new people. They were often possessive of their classroom. But, they were good at the other stuff.

The younger adult groups were better at reaching new people and teaching the Bible. But, they were not as good in the caring part. In their defense, this age group were busy. They had jobs, were raising kids, had a home to take of, and all of that stuff. While I understand the business of life, people were created for relationship. I believe it’s hard to grow in your faith without that component in your life. Bottom line … getting together for an hour each week for a Bible study is not enough.

Time is running out (I gotta get to the office), so I need to wrap this up! I think the Sunday school has a lot to offer. It also has its limitations. Teaching the Bible is a great thing to do. Meeting at the church on Sunday is convenient for many people. Some fellowship with others is better than none. Teachers of children may miss out and hinder their spiritual growth if they do not get involved in a group themselves. The cost of building and maintaining education space is expensive. Some Sunday school classes do a great job; some fail; most are just average.

Sunday school is an effective model for helping people become mature followers of Jesus Christ … if it is done correctly. More on that later; I gotta go!