My dad, who was Sunday School Director for my church for 35 years, believed and shared with me that Sunday School is the Outreach/Evangelistic Arm of the church. Is it really? Should it be? How is Evangelism related to Sunday School?
Steve Pearson, the Evangelism strategist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, did a 25 year statistical analysis searching for the correlation of increased baptisms. He asked three questions:
- When our Sunday School average attendance was up did that mean we would have more Baptisms?
- When we started new churches did we see an increase in Baptisms?
- How did Resident Membership affect Baptisms?
The greatest correlation between increased baptisms was Sunday School attendance. In fact, in the three years that TBC churches reported the greatest number of baptisms, the churches also reported the greatest number in Sunday School. In Effective Evangelism Churches, Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway Christian Resources, discovered to his surprise that Sunday School was one of the most frequent evangelistic methods utilized by these churches.
A relationship does exist between Sunday School and Evangelism. But is Sunday School really the outreach, evangelistic arm of the church? Ken Hemphill wrote in Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur:
The Sunday School must be plugged into a passion for evangelism; otherwise, it will settle into the comfort zone of a maintenance organization. By ignoring the evangelistic potential of the Sunday School, we have reduced Sunday School to a stagnant pool of introverted groups that look primarily to their own needs and interests and ignores the plight of the unsaved.
In this very hot summer, many ponds became slimy and scummy in Tennessee. Is this how God sees our Sunday School classes when we are focused inwardly instead of outwardly? Is your Sunday School class and small group a place where lost people are welcomed? Is your Sunday School Class involved in outreach and service to the community?
In David Francis’s release, Connect3: The power of
One Sunday School Class, he writes, “We actually want members in Sunday School who are not yet believers—people who have yet pledged their allegiance to Jesus.” He goes on to discuss the importance of allowing lost persons to belong before they believe.
I accepted Christ as an eleven year old boy. I am certainly glad that my parents took me to Sunday School and encourage me to study God’s word before I believed. Shouldn’t we do the same for lost people of any age? Sunday School should be a place where people who are seeking answers to spiritual and life questions can belong. In a group of caring, loving people, they can discover for themselves truth and realize that Christianity makes a difference in the lives of real people.