Archive for Transformation

3 Ways to Challenge Members to Develop Spiritual Disciplines

by Jeff Musgrave

prayerhandsWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Paul reminded Timothy to “train for godliness” because it has value in every way. Training requires discipline, however, discipline isn’t a pleasant word for most of us. The Christian life demands that we be disciplined if we want to grow.

WHAT DO I DO? Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Start small. The easiest way to get overwhelmed is to try and do too much at once. Pick one spiritual discipline and work on that first. Make time for a daily devotion or prayer time perhaps.
  2. Be accountable. Just as most people do better at physical training when they have a trainer to help keep them on task and going, a spiritual trainer can help keep us stay disciplined in our spiritual activity.
  3. Track your growth. Consider keeping a journal or record of your activity with spiritual disciplines and recording what God is doing in your life through them. Keep a prayer journal with prayers you have prayed and answers God has given for instance.

Most of all, don’t give up. If you fail, start again. Spiritual disciplines aren’t easy, but they are worth the effort.

Lead Your Members to Live the Gospel

helpWHY DOES THIS MATTER? Each week there are many Sunday School Teachers who study hard to find new information their class members do not know about a Bible passage and they are eager to share that information on Sunday.   While this is commendable, it is not what the role of the teacher should be.   The role of the teacher is to get his or her members to live the Gospel.   Jesus said:

Matthew 28:19-20 (NASB)
19  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  20  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

WHAT DO I DO? A teacher wants a member to live the gospel or to observe all that Christ commanded.   It takes work.  Dr. Leroy Ford, an expert on the teaching/learning environment, stated that “no one will work to accomplish someone else’s goal.”   If that is true, we cannot afford to just tell members of the truths; we have to  help them to discover the truths themselves and apply it to their own lives.   This requires getting the members to engage through questions and activities which require them to think about the passage and how it affects their own lives.


Dr. Mark Yoakum, Director of Church Ministries, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Sunday School in a Transformational Church

This is article five of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.

Word Driven

Read Luke 10:25-27 and listen for Jesus’ teaching method…

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus.  ‘Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?’

Jesus answered, ‘What’s written in God’s Law?  How do you interpret it?’

He said, ‘That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence – and that you love your neighbor as you do yourself.’  ‘Good answer!’ said Jesus. ‘“Do it and you’ll live.’  Looking for a loophole,  he asked, ‘And just how would you define neighbor?’    Jesus answered by telling a story and encourages the scholar to listen for the answer to his question.

(Jesus tells The Good Samaritan story)

Jesus asked, ‘What do you think?  Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?’  ‘The one who treated him kindly,’ the religion scholar responded.  Jesus said, ‘Go and do the same.’

Jesus began by pointing the scholar to the scriptures, The Law and asked for his interpretation.

Jesus didn’t tell the scholar anything.  He involved the scholar in discovering for himself the biblical truth that could transform his life.

Then he sent him on a mission!  Jesus knew that knowledge was not enough; the truth must be appropriated into life for it to be transformational.

Principle:  A Word-Driven Small Community ‘begins with, returns to, and ends with God’s Word which is relevant to any challenge or discussion.’ Stetzer/Rainer

We Baptist fume and fuss about the Bible, but I’ve discovered that we will do anything to keep from studying it and when we do, we make it the most inane hour of the week.  As I have traveled across NC over the past 30 years, I’ve asked this question to a multitude of churches:  How long do you spend in actual Bible study every Sunday? The average answer is about 30 minutes.  Sunday School classes practice the “Three Baptist’s B’s” quite well  15 minutes of shooting the Bull; 15 minutes of talking about the Ball game, and maybe 30 minutes of Bible study.  We also spend an inordinate amount of time on announcement and prayer requests, plus we must wait until everyone is there before we do these, because it would be a tragedy for anyone to miss the announcement/prayer requests, but Bible study can go out the window!  You can tell that I have a bit of passion around this subject.  We must remember that announcements do not make disciples; that we’re praying ourselves into biblical illiteracy (and I believe in fervent prayer); and that hour on Sunday morning is sacred unto God for Bible study.  We’re fooling ourselves if we think that people are getting it anywhere else.  They’re not.  So, what does it mean to be Word-Driven?

A Word-Driven Sunday School…

  • Has the Word of God as its anchor.
  • Is not an emotional support group.   Members are always brought back to God’s word as the source for every need.
  • Shares stories and experiences when the biblical passage and life experiences intersect
  • Teaches with DEPTH …less about covering the content and more about engaging the content.

Regarding depth, Adults indicated that only 14 percent of a possible study time should be dedicated to teacher explanation or lecture as opposed to 40 percent for discussion and hands on learning. The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them, Stetzer, Hayes

I have the joy of teaching a small group of adults on Sunday mornings.  I’ve discovered that they really do want                   a ‘word-driven’ Bible study that ‘begins, returns, and ends with God’s word’; one that doesn’t waste time but uses the full hour for Bible study.  I’ve also discovered that they enjoy learning in creative ways and that transformation has no age limit; even senior adults.  Paul wrote in his letters that transformation comes by the “renewing of your minds”.  This renewing work of God’s Spirit is a life-long activity.  All adults continue to be transformed into the likeness of Christ by God through the renewing of their minds and attitudes.  We do not change the way we learn as we mature.  Our learning style doesn’t shift so much as does our reticence to change.  If we have been used to learning only by lecture, then this is the way we expect to learn when we come to Bible study.  It may not meet our primary learning style, but it’s the way “ we’ve always done it.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that adults don’t enjoy learning in creative ways; even senior adults.  Simply check out the programs that are offered at adult centers and YMCAs, and you’ll discover that adults are some of the most involved, creative people around.  Why should Bible study be different?  Church is often the only place that adults are asked to come sit, soak, and sour.  This should not be!

Andragogy is the art and science of adult learning and it assumes that adults come with experiences to share and if they do not share, then little or no learning takes place.  Many adults have had years of biblical study and many wonderful stories.  The leader can set up an environment in which the members can feel safe and unthreatened to share what they know or some of their experiences.  Remember, the statement, “Where there is no involvement, there is no learning” was written by Gaines Dobbins when he was in his eighties!  As an educator of adults he recognized the benefit of involving people, at all ages.

So, teach like Jesus.  Ask your class, What’s written in God’s Word?  How do you interpret it?  What do you think? Then sit back and let them get involved in discovering for themselves biblical truths that can transform their lives.

Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Sunday School in a Transformational Church

This is article four of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.

Mission Oriented


If Sunday School is to become a transformational ministry, its mission must be to make disciples that become more like Jesus.

But I believe that in many of our churches Sunday School has lost its purpose.   It has become simply a program that exists to sustain itself.  Today, we have a lot of people that diss a program.  There is nothing wrong with a program; it’s simply an organized way of doing something.  We’re reminded in TC:  If structure is not added to what God starts, the powerful momentum can be short lived. Tri Robinson, Revolutionary Leadership

However, when a program is not mission-oriented it quickly loses its reason for being.  The focus is on keeping the program spinning, and consequently on Sunday morning the Sunday School Director goes to the secretary’s office and helps her count nickels and noses and if there is a vacant hole, he grabs a round person and stuffs him into that square hole just to keep the program spinning.  It exists to sustain itself, not to accomplish the mission.  Sunday School must re-discover its true identity and purpose; not as a program or a church growth strategy but a mission-oriented ministry for making disciples and transforming lives through Transformational Small Communities.

Read Acts 8:30-35 and Listen for God’s Mission…

Later God’s angel spoke to Philip:  ‘At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza.’

He got up and went.  He met an Ethiopian eunuch coming down the road. He was riding in a chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah.

The Spirit told Philip, ‘Climb into the chariot.’  Running up alongside, Philip heard the eunuch reading Isaiah and asked, ‘Do you understand what you’re reading?’ He answered, ‘How can I without some to help?’ and invited Philip into the chariot with him.  The eunuch said, ‘Tell me who is the prophet talking about:  himself or some other?’  Philip grabbed his chance.  Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him.

The Message

What was God’s Mission? For Philip…For the church…For Sunday School…For your class or small group…For you…

The Mission has not changed! Principle:  A Mission oriented Sunday School is outwardly focused and intentionally evangelistic.

What is needed to develop a Mission-Oriented Transformational Small Communities ministry?

A Mission-Oriented Pastor

  • To lead the church to discover its Mission.
  • To Empower the Sunday School to accomplish its purpose of making disciples.

A Mission-Oriented Sunday School Ministry Team – Without a team, the SS Director’s hands are tied.  He can’t do this by him/herself.  With a team, a mission-oriented, transformational, disciple-making strategy can be planned.

  • Sunday School Director
  • Outreach Coordinator – Works with Class Outreach Leaders
  • Ministry Coordinator – Works with Class Care Group Leaders
  • Adult Representative – One of the Adult Teachers
  • Student/Youth Representative – One of the Youth Teachers
  • Children’s Representative – One of the Children’s Teachers
  • Preschool Representative – One of the Preschool Teachers

Functions of the Sunday School Ministry Team:

  1. Annual Planning: to accomplish the mission of the church.  Each spring the team meets for an extended planning time to plan the year of Sunday School Ministry.  Example:  Meet Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon.  Divide the year into seasonal quarters and plan each quarters work.
  2. Monthly Coordination: Keeping track and measuring progress of Transformational Ministry.
    1. Evaluate past ministries
    2. Coordinate current ministry
    3. Plan Ahead for future ministries

The team meets for one hour monthly to keep the ministry coordinated around the mission. 

A Mission-Oriented Sunday School Organization with a Missionary Mentality in which each group can answer the question:  Who is your ‘People Group’?

  • Age Grading
  • Life-Stage
  • Generational Group
  • Affinity Group
  • Inter-generational
  • Ethnicity

Organize your Sunday School based on who needs to be reached in your community. Create small groups so that each has a people group to reach.  Example:  People in a small group for 25-35 year old adults will focus on the 25-35 age group as their people group to reach.  This is a missionary mentality for developing a disciple-making culture.

Mission – Oriented Care Groups in Adult/Student Classes

  • One Care Group Leader for every 4-6 members
  • Function:  Contact Every Member and Prospect Every Week.

Next week’s blog post( number five of ten) will on Word Driven

Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Enlist and Equip Leaders

This is 25 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School

A growing church needs to continually develop new leaders.  The number one reason I hear for not starting new groups is, “We don’t have enough leaders.”  Do you have enough leaders?  How do you develop new leaders?  Do you have a process or pathway for developing new leaders?

Developing leaders is a two-pronged process: 1) disciple-making, and 2) skill development.  An intentional process for disciple-making will produce maturing believers who are experiencing the power of Spirit-filled living and are ready to serve based on their Spirit-giftedness.  Following are ideas for helping these maturing believers find a place of leadership and develop leadership skills.


Enlist Leaders

Personal enlistment is the key to recruiting new leaders.  Announcements are fine to create awareness, but most people won’t respond to an impersonal announcement.  And often those who do respond are not the ones you really want. The goal is not to “fill slots” but to help people find places of ministry.  Get to know people.  Discover their gifts and passions.  Prayerfully consider where God would have them serve.  Ask them personally when you can honestly say, “I think you’re the right person to serve in this place.” Be honest in your enlistment.  Give them all the information they will need about their places of service.  Challenge people.  If “there’s nothing to it,” why would they want to do it?  Challenge them with a vision for what could be done for the Lord.  And don’t put people on the spot.  Give them time to pray about their response  (There are a number of excellent previous blogs on the Enlistment Process).

Equip Leaders

Every leadership position has a set of skills which are required for the leader to be effective.  For a leader in Sunday School these include skills in reaching their people group, ministering to their people group, and teaching their people group. How do you equip your leaders?  Letting them serve as apprentices is effective.  They get on-the-job training from skilled leaders.  One-on-one training can be effective.  I’ve trained a number of leaders like this over the years, but it produces leaders in smaller numbers.  Classroom training for potential leaders works well.  As a young adult I learned a lot in a potential teacher class led by Mildred Wade.  “Turbo groups” are another approach.  You enlist a group of potential leaders for a small group with the expectation that when the group finishes, they will enlist and lead their own groups.

Empower Leaders

If you want people to do their best for the Lord, you have to turn them loose.  You have to give them freedom to serve their ways, which will not necessarily be your way.  Sure you want clear goals and guidelines for what is acceptable.  However, when you enlist maturing believers to lead, you must trust that they can follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit just as you do.  Empower leaders.  Give them freedom to lead and serve in the ways God has gifted them.

Encourage Leaders

Inexperienced leaders can easily become discouraged.  Things don’t always go well.  You need to keep in touch, ask how things are going, and encourage leaders to keep moving forward. Even experienced leaders need encouragement.  Often Satan’s attacks are strongest against the most effective leaders.  Your words of encouragement can help your leaders stand strong.

Your church cannot grow without new leaders.  What’s your next step to develop new leaders? ­­­­
Bob Wood is a State Missionary with the Baptist State Convention of Michigan, assisting churches to become more intentional and effective in making disciples