August is always an exciting time for Sunday School leaders. It is an opportunity for a fresh start. For starting new groups. For training new leaders. For trying new tactics. For remembering tried and true ones.
Again this August, the men and women who lead the work of Sunday School, discipleship, and small groups in Baptist state conventions will contribute a new article every day of August to help you get fired up about a new year of discipling people through groups. This year, they will be writing on topics related to the new book Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Groups. LifeWay’s Small Groups Specialist Rick Howerton and I worked really hard to pack a lot of stuff into a 64-page book that will provide any reader a condensed but comprehensive overview of everything groups. You can download the book free at lifeway.com/davidfrancis or to your iOS device at iTunes (just search my name). Whether you read along or not, the articles the next 30 days will benefit you. Don’t miss any!
The countdown will go like this:
10 Terms. You’ll learn the basic “language” of groups that will equip you to have a conversation with any leader in any church. You’ll learn to distinguish terms like group and class, open and closed, ongoing and short-term, and others. Starting tomorrow!
9 Research-validated Reasons. Making disciples through groups is not just an idea. It’s an idea backed up by research. People in groups grow more, serve more, give more, share more, and stick more than those not it groups.
8 Big Choices. Designing group ministries—like Sunday School—require leaders to make trade-off decisions. Big choices. We’ll explore 8 big ones that will help you understand—or influence—why your church’s system of groups operate as they do.
7 Elements. We will explore the 7 elements discovered in the research reported in Transformational Church and how they apply to making disciples through groups.
6 Challenges. You’ll have to read the Countdown book for these. These “outside the box” challenges to conventional thinking about groups from Rick Howerton are too unique to comment on. Get the book!
5 Stages. We will revisit the famous Flake’s formula’s five steps using five fresh words: dream, declare, develop, determine, and deploy.
4 Starting Points. Another place you’ll have to read the book, which explains the “starting points” that drive the development of LifeWay’s 4 major Bible study curriculum brands: topic, text, theology, and your church. You can also see how this works at lifeway.com/go.
3 Purposes. Sunday School classes or small groups can’t do everything. They can probably do three. One should be primary.
2 Key Words. The destiny of your church’s Sunday School or groups ministry will be determined by how much you increasingly embrace and support groups that are small and new.
1 Essential Book. Want to guess what book? Here’s a hint: If it’s not Bible study, it’s not Sunday School! What a great reminder on August 31.
I look forward to reading how the friends who are designated “State Sunday School Director” in their Baptist state convention. Most of us have other responsibilities, too. But our “first love” is Sunday School. I hope you share our passion. Or will at the end of August!
David Francis is the Director of Sunday School at LifeWay Christian Resources. On a typical Sunday morning, you can find David and wife Vickie at First Baptist Church Hendersonville, Tennessee. They arrive about 8:00 to set up their pre-K room, attend the 8:30 worship service, teach their class of 4-5 year old kids at 9:45, and participate in an adult Bible study group at 11:00.
Follow David on Twitter at @1davidfrancis
Rick Howerton is the co-author of Countdown. Rick is the Discipleship & Small Groups Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources. If you entered Rick’s house on most any Tuesday night around 6:30, you’d find Rick and his wife Julie welcoming some of their closest friends: their small group made up of believers longing to live in authentic Christian community. Rick attends the church he planted, The Bridge Church, in Spring Hill, Tennessee and serves in the role of founding pastor.
Follow Rick on Twitter at @RickHowerton