My grandson has always been amazed by heavy farm machinery. Garrett has had many toy tractors and knows the names of all the farm machinery. As a first grader he now wants to ride with his dad or grandfather on the big tractors. However, he also understands these large machines can be dangerous, as well as helpful.
A bulldozer, for example, may be used to clear out an area on which to build a home—or maybe a barn. The same machine can be used to tear down something—maybe a building that is no longer safe to dwell in or that has been severely damaged by fire or storms. The same piece of powerful machinery can either build up or tear down.
I’m convinced Sunday School leaders hold the same influence—either positively or negatively. One Sunday School leader can have tremendous impact or influence. Whether you are talking about the entire organization or one Sunday School class or group, the truth applies to both.
Imagine Sunday School teachers who are so fearful that “they will split my class” that they deliberately undermine any efforts to start new classes. Their tactics may be open and bold or they may be subtle. The subtle may be more dangerous because people may not see what is happening. You know what I
mean. “I just can’t imagine not having any of you in my class any more. I just love our sweet fellowship. “
On the other hand, imagine Sunday School teachers that know starting new classes are effective in the church’s mission to make and grow disciples. These teachers are constantly planting seeds that promote starting new classes. They constantly make note of peoples’ gifts or abilities and may encourage them in ways such as, “I’ve noticed how well you relate to our preschoolers when we have class fellowships. Have you ever prayed about how God might use you in a ministry with preschoolers?” These teachers will love everyone, but they keep forging toward the mission. These teachers will tell stories of changed lives and remind classes they would not have met or heard these stories without the folks who once came into their class as newcomers. These teachers celebrate growing and sending out leaders. They probably have photos on the wall of the “class missionaries” who are serving in other age groups on Sunday morning—people for whom they pray often.
The choice is yours. Will you lead in a way that builds up people and, most importantly, builds up the church? Will you keep your eyes on the mission and help others do the same? Or will you choose to lead in ways that tear down people and/or tear down God’s church? Again, the choice is yours. I pray you lead out of a heart that yearns for people to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and then come to grow in their lifelong journey of becoming more like Christ.
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.