This is article one of a ten part series.
There’s a little praise chorus that has almost become the “Amazing Grace” for a new generation. Nearly everyone, young and old knows the words. Let’s sing it together
Lord, I lift your name on high.
Lord, I love to sing your praises.
I’m so glad you’re in my life.
I’m so glad you came to save us.
You came from heaven to earth
To show the way.
From the earth to the cross,
My debt to pay.
From the cross to the grave;
From the grave to the sky;
Lord, I lift your name on high.
What did we just sing? The transforming gospel of Jesus! Those of us who have experienced this transformation understand its power; we’re different people than we were or would have been had we not heard and accepted this gospel. Now, look outside of your four walls. Just beyond them are people who have not yet experienced this transformation. It is for them that Sunday School exists; not for us. Our job is to make disciples of them so they, too, can experience transformation. What is transformation?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Transformation? The answer most people give is Change. Some use the term Metamorphosis as in the change from caterpillar to butterfly. Change is a good word; it means fixing the past. A colleague of mind recently shared with me a new definition of transformation. It’s more than change; it’s creating a new path for the future. I like that!
What Scripture passages come to mind when you think about Transformation? The two most quoted are:
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Transformation: change; creating a new path for the future; from old to new… by the renewing of your mind. The word mind implies learning as a pre-requisite for transformation. Sunday School is a learning place; a place for the renewing of your mind; a place where transformation can happen. That’s why I think that Sunday School ministry is well suited for Transformational Ministry.
In their book, Transformational Church, Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer use the acronym B.A.R. to describe a transformational ministry.
BAR is a little unusual term for a Baptist church, but I’d like for us to think of it as a transformational church raises the BAR of what it means to be church. LifeWay research discovered that in a Transformational Church:
- People Become more like Jesus.
- Churches Act more like the Body of Christ.
- Communities Reflect more of the Kingdom of God.
If Sunday School is to become a transformational ministry, its mission must be to make disciples that become more like Jesus.
I have a friend that exemplifies this mission. She lived a hard life of alcohol, drugs, and biker-bars. To look at her you can still see the effects of her past, but what a sweet and gentle person she has become. She came to know Christ because someone dared to build a relationship with her and invite her to come learn with them at church. Her life was not just changed or fixed; it was transformed with a new path for her future. Usually, when you ask her on Sunday how her week has gone, she humbly shares about
how she was able to meet someone’s need that week, even though she is a woman of limited means. She’s a regular participant in the small group/Sunday School class and is constantly helping out at the church and on mission trips. For her, old things have passed away, behold all things are become new; and she keeps the transformation going by the renewing of her mind weekly in small group Bible study with fellow believers. She has become and is becoming more and more like Jesus.
Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.