Archive for 31 Days of Transformational Class

The Power of Conversation

Can you picture the camp fire reflecting on Jesus’ face as He engaged His disciples in conversation? Those conversations transformed the disciples thinking and forged them into the leaders who would change the world. Jesus is our ultimate example of the power of conversation.

Christ’s example of conversation reveals its importance in the transformational work of the Sunday School. This power is revealed through the preschool Sunday School teacher sitting on the floor and revealing that God is love. It is seen in the group interaction of children and youth engaged in their biblical levels of learning.

The power of conversation is especially important to the adult Sunday School class. It is in those biblical conversations that opinions are transformed into biblical truth. It is where ministry needs are shared and discovered. It is a time of conversation with God about the greatest of needs. It is where our attitudes about the church are brought into perspective in a more positive way. Those conversations transform life and prepare us for the challenges of the week ahead.

Conversations help us to identify biblically the purpose of the class. Are we growing spiritually? Are we fellowshipping and building community? Are we ministering to those connected to the class? Are we reaching anyone for Christ? Are we serving? Are we growing closer in our devotion to God? Is my church stronger and a better place to be because our Sunday School class exists?

Conversations with our Sunday School leaders are also critically important in the transformational Sunday School. How can we be more effective in our work? Is there a need for training and improvement? What conversations do we need to have to sharpen our skills and provide the very best for every age group?


Rick Ellison is in the Office of Leadership/Church Health of the Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions

Your Class on Mission in Its Neighborhood

Tom Capps is one of our missional leaders in South Carolina. I’ve adapted Tom’s ABC’s of Missional Living to help you help your class be on mission beginning in your own neighborhood.

ABCs of Missional Living


When God makes us aware of needs around us, He is revealing his work and His will to us. Consider prayer walking (or prayer riding) your neighborhood to become more aware of what God might be showing you and to sense needs for which He has given you a burden. Move through your neighborhood asking God to show you needs –some of which you may have never seen before. Share those with your class.


God does not expect us to meet every need we see. However, when He burdens us about a specific need, then He is calling us to join Him in demonstrating His love and power to those with the need. As you move through your neighborhood, try to discern those things for which God might be giving you a burden. Consider forming prayer groups to diligently pray to discover the burden God is giving each person and maybe your class as a whole.


When God reveals His will to us, we must choose whether we will obey. Our choice reveals what we believe about God and the depth of our love for Him. Be careful of saying “yes” to God only when you feel equipped for the assignment. He may want you to experience His power at work through you, so you will grow in faith and come to know Him more intimately. Pray for boldness as a class for to seek what God may be showing you as you identify the burdens each of you identified in

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We must do what God calls us to do. He may give assignments that use our abilities, experience, and wisdom; but He is
not limited by what we can do. It is God at work in us and through us that makes the difference in the lives of others. Consider working together as a class to start meeting some needs you identified and to which you believe God might be calling you. Sometimes people will join God on mission as a group or class. Some will find their passion. Try to involve your class in meeting needs in an ongoing partnership. Don’t let Satan discourage you if each person does not identify a burden/need. Sometimes a group or class is a great lab school or experiment to help others find their niche in ministry. Expect everyone to do something!


When we do our good deeds, we show the love of God to others. However, when we fail to share the gospel, we are no better than good people and organizations in the world that care about helping others. We must show love AND share Christ! Encourage class members to intentionally form relationships with people who may not know Christ. As a class, pray for these people by name.

Follow Through

When we allow God to love others through us and then tell them about the good news of forgiveness and life through Jesus Christ, many will come to follow Him as disciples. Those we lead to the Lord, we are responsible to teach to live for the Lord. Find ways to celebrate members being on mission, as well as lost people coming to know Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Just because someone joins your class or joins the church does not mean our job is done. Follow through when people
choose to follow Christ.


Jesus said, “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.”John 15:8 (HCSB). The fruit of a missional life is disciples who follow Jesus and lead others to Him. Disciples are disciple makers bringing glory to God. Celebrate as a class or church when people dare to live the missional life beginning in your community. Be careful to honor God and give Him and only Him glory.

If your class needs to discover where they are in terms of being on mission in your neighborhood, consider a simple evaluation. Sketch the chart below on a tear sheet (or label four tear sheets according to the four quadrants below). Cover the tear sheet with a blank sheet you will remove later. Give each person one sticky note. Tell them to list one thing the class does in your community. Ask people to go to the chart and place their sticky note in the quadrant that best describes that activity.

Light but no Salt (sharing the gospel but no needs met) Salt and Light (meeting needs beyond the church AND sharing the gospel)
No Salt or Light (caring for our own) Salt but no Light (meeting needs beyond the church, but not sharing the gospel)

Process what you see using the following questions:

  1. What does this activity reveal to you?
  2. Were you surprised? Why or why not?
  3. What can we do to insure we focus on meeting needs beyond the church AND share the gospel of Jesus Christ?
    Brainstorm practical ideas encouraging people to begin with things they already love doing and places they already go on a regular basis.

Just get the conversation started. We must show and tell the love of Jesus Christ beyond the walls of the church.

Belinda Jolley serves as the Director of the Adult Ministry Office of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Belinda and her husband, Steve, enjoy starting new classes at First Baptist Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Characteristics of an Emerging Class

A common remark heard in Sunday School meetings is, “I know we should start new classes, but where do we get the leaders?” Historically, there is a tendency to designate leaders rather that to develop or disciple leaders. Nominating committees bestow leadership positions on individuals because of their visibility (attendance frequency) and inability (to say
“no”). Biblically, leaders should be discipled, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mt. 4:19)

As a part of the disciple-making process, every leader should be seeking to discover and develop future leaders. Discover emerging leaders by their:

  1. Passion – an individual who clearly displays a love for Christ, His Church, and for serving.
  2. Participation – inside the class, this individual engages in discussion, asks questions, and displays a love for understanding and living the Word.
  3. Potential – outside the class, in an interview or conversation, the individual reveals leadership potential. Develop a habit of spending time with class members to discover the potential everyone has through their spiritual giftedness. Utilize one of the great varieties of tools that are available to assist in this process.

After the discovery process, all leaders need to be developed or discipled as follows:

  1. Scripturally – As stated earlier, Jesus’ example was to call people to “follow,” and He began both to “do and teach.” (Acts 1:1) Develop an apprentice or mentoring relationship with emerging leadership. Call them alongside before sending them out to serve.
  2. Spiritually – Every leader needs to develop and be held accountable for some basic, daily spiritual disciplines (derived from Acts 2):
    A) Studying the Word, B) Spending time in prayer, C) Sharing with anyone as they have need, D) Stewardship of
    their resources – time, talent, and treasure, and E) Serving withsincerity of heart [1]
  3. Skillfully – take emerging leaders with you to a wide variety of training events that will hone their skill. Training may be done through the local Church, Association, State Convention, or SBC entity. All leaders are to be lifelong learners!

[1] Phipps, Lawrence H. and Daniel E. Edmonds, Growing Sunday School TEAMS, (Montgomery, For Life Ministries, 2001), 19.


Daniel E. Edmonds is State Missionary, Director of the Office of Sunday School & Discipleship, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

Celebrate When You Send out Missionaries to Serve

As a Sunday School missionary serving in Utah and Idaho, I am in an area where there is a predominant religion different than my own. This religion permeates much of the culture in the area.  One of the things they are recognized for is sending off their young people on mission for two years.  It’s a part of their culture.  Now I am not endorsing the merits of their religion or the legitimacy of their spiritual condition.  I only bring it up to point out an interesting fact.  As a community, they know how to celebrate the sending out of their missionaries.

If you have ever been in the baggage claim or TSA security area of SLC International Airport, you have seen what I am talking about.  Huge banners are displayed with balloons, flowers, stuffed animals and a massive party atmosphere that would send most TSA agents on high alert. This is all for the purpose of sending off or welcoming home their missionaries.

I say all that to ask, why do we not celebrate the sending off of our own “missionaries” who are leaving our adult Sunday School classes to serve the children, preschool, and student ministry departments?  If there is anything Baptists are known for, it is fellowship.  So why don’t we throw parties for adult volunteers that leave our classes to work in other areas of the church?  Too often, this is done in silence as the summer schedule winds down and the nominating committee twists the arms of people in our pews to “serve their time” by teaching in a SS class, like it is some sort of punishment.  That should never be the case.  These are times of celebration. Our adult classes need to create an atmosphere where service is a blessing and something our people look forward to being a part of.

Here are some tips to help change the attitude of service in your adult department to a culture where people look forward to their opportunity to go out on mission and serve in other departments of your church.

  • Have a commissioning service at the end of the summer for adult members going out to serve
  • Create a class poster with the names and photos of those serving the preschool, children and student departments as a constant prayer reminder in your class room
  • Have adult classes adopt children and preschool classes with the intention of providing for all the staffing needs of that class
  • Include the names of associate or in-service members on the ongoing class prayer list
  • During major holiday seasons, have adult classes host class parties for children and preschool classes where their missionary is serving
  • Occasionally offer additional adults to go and substitute teach for the missionary in service allowing them to attend their adult Sunday School class
  • Invite the missionary in service to every class party or event
  • Include them in the care group ministry of the adult class so that they are contacted every week, just as all the other members of the adult class
  • Create a culture of service within the DNA of your adult class so that serving in other areas becomes a natural part of being a member

These, and other ideas, are covered on page 38 of David Francis’ book Transformational Class: Transformational Church Goes to Sunday School.


Jason McNair is the Religious Education Consultant for the Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention.  He also teaches an adult Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in West Valley City, UT (when he is not standing in a TSA security line at SLC International Airport watching missionary welcome celebrations).


The Three R’s of a Missional Group

Have you ever heard the old saying, “Good Things Come in Threes”? Consider these:




Auto Industry: The Big Three (well, for a long time)

ABC/NBC/CBS (Three networks, three letters each)

Baseball: three strikes, three bases, three outfielders

Yada, yada, yada…blah, blah, blah.

You get the idea. In the context of an on-mission Sunday School class, good things come when we practice the three Rs: Release, Reproduce and Reach.

Sometimes Adult Sunday School classes seem to forget where new leaders for the preschool, children, and student classes come from. They come from Adult Sunday School classes! As your Sunday School grows, you will need many more workers. Rather than be upset about losing class members to serve in these important areas of the church, you should celebrate them as missionaries from your class. Call them Associate Members or Members-in-Service. And make sure to keep them involved in the life of the class by keeping in touch with them and inviting them to all class functions. By doing this, more members will be willing to serve in the church.

Every living thing needs to reproduce. Otherwise it will slowly die away. The same is true for a Sunday School class. If you truly want to grow, then each class must reproduce itself! When is a class ready to reproduce? When the room is too full, when the teacher cannot keep track of all the member’s names, or when your apprentice teacher is ready to lead. Instead of “splitting the class” or “dividing the class”, try “birthing” a new class. Make it as exciting as having a new child or grandchild being born. Enjoy the pregnancy period as you prepare the class, and then celebrate the birth with a party!

If your Sunday School class is going to grow and reach new people, it will take all the members being on mission. Encourage your class members to share the names of lost people they know who need to be involved in Bible study. List these names on a poster in the class and pray regularly for them. Celebrate when one comes to know Christ and when they are enrolled in a Bible study class. Challenge your members to enroll at least one person in the class over the next quarter. Lead the class to become missional by finding a need in your community and plan a ministry project to address it.

Yes, good things can come in three’s. When a class practices the three Rs, it becomes a class that’s willing to empty itself in missional activity.


Mark Donnell is the State Sunday School Specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention.