In Extreme Sunday School, Bruce Raley states “an ongoing group is simply that; a group with no set ending date.” Historically, Southern Baptist Sunday School were built on the back of Ongoing groups. What are the benefits of Ongoing groups?
First, ongoing groups foster greater accountability. Yes, classes can meet on-campus or off-campus, weekly or monthly, at the church or in a home. But the fact that the group meets regularly with no ending date promotes greater accountability of the importance of being connected to a group.
Second, ongoing groups offer a discipline approach to Bible study. In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us to teach all things whatsoever I have commanded you. He didn’t tell his church to teach some things but all things. As a Sunday School leader, ongoing groups will provide your church with the best opportunity to offer a balanced curriculum for teaching God’s truth from every book of the Bible.
Third, ongoing groups provide a systematic process for spiritual growth. Raley states, “making disciples is not a project…discipleship is always ongoing.” Every church needs a process that moves people forward in their spiritual journey. A properly functioning organization built on ongoing groups deliver the foundation for developing a systematic process for spiritual growth based on the life stage and needs of the participant.
Fourth, ongoing groups allow churches to promote Sunday School as the outreach, evangelistic arm of the church. Ongoing groups provide natural opportunities for members to invite their lost friends, family, neighbors, and newcomers to join them. Leaders should insure that every group knows its primary target audience and consider ways to reach guests, new members and prospects for Christ.
Fifth, ongoing groups engage more of its members in leadership roles. Both short-term and ongoing groups need a Bible study leader but ongoing groups are best served when additional leaders are enlisted to help the group connect with each other through fellowship, minister to members in crisis, pray for one another, serve the community through mission projects, prepare to multiply by having a co-leader or apprentice, and encourage the group to be engaged in outreach and evangelism. If you believe that everything rises and falls on leadership, then the more leaders…the more probable groups will be engaged in all the functions of the church: evangelism, fellowship, ministry, worship, and discipleship.
These are five great reasons why every church should be engaged in starting “open, ongoing Bible Study groups designed to intentionally balance biblical content and biblical community with a view toward producing disciples.”