My car has a gauge that is designed to give immediate feedback on driving that encourages good fuel economy. The gauge stays green when I am set on cruise control, but turns blue when I am darting out into traffic to get my daughter to school on time. At any time, I can glance at a gauge and receive instant feedback.
My wife has a garden during the summer in which she grows tomatoes, peppers, and squash. At the end of the season, she can easily examine the produce and determine the success of her efforts by the number, size, and quality of the vegetables.
When it comes to seeing the results of teaching Sunday School, the answers are not so instantly or easily understood. Teaching for life change means that charting the people who fill a chair every week cannot be the full measure of a leader’s success. What can leaders look for as indicators of life change through Sunday School? Consider these three Biblical results for leaders to look for in the lives of group members.
Colossians 1:28 states that one goal of the leader is to “present everyone mature in Christ.” A result of our teaching ministry should be that learners are becoming more mature in their faith. Maturity is often marked by the increasing ability to care for yourself and the decreasing need to be supervised by others.
Spiritually speaking, maturity may be understood in part as the ability of the learner to spend time on their own in God’s word and in prayer. Maturity is the ability of the learner to hear God’s voice, sense His direction, and understand His will. In 3 Roles, the authors state that “such self-feeding activity is the most significant predictor of spiritual growth.” Giving group members an opportunity to share from their own devotional time with God will create expectation and provide leaders with a way to note increases in personal spiritual maturity.
Measure of the Fullness of Jesus
Ephesians 4 says that leaders are to equip members so that they grow “into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” In addition to the word “maturity” appearing again, we now see that our standard for measure is the fullness of Jesus. Simply put, how full of Jesus are the people in your group? As they participate in group conversations, listen for expressions of His love, grace, compassion, and priorities . . . and especially note how they increase over time!
Ministry and Service to Others
One final result may be taken from 1 Peter 4:10 which instructs all Christ followers to take the gifts they have been given and use them “to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.” By using groups as a strategy for responding to needs for service in the life of the church, leaders can observe how often members volunteer for service, which types of ministry connect with their passions and interest, and how their capacity for responsibility increases. Some will even serve for the very first time!
Keep taking attendance every week . . . but also begin to look for indicators like these to get a deeper picture of the results of teaching for real life change.
David Bond is the Small Groups/Sunday School specialist at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.