Transformation for the Christian is less about what we are being “changed from” and more about what we are being “changed to.” The change can be dramatic making comparison natural, but the focus is not on the past or even the future. Rather the focus is on a Person, Jesus Christ.
Transformation is less a specific moment in time and more a process over time. Consider simply two verses:
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, HCSB)–note that “renewing” is an ongoing action
…now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12b)
Sunday School classes walk alongside believers in that process. Teachers and class members become cheerleaders and encouragers. They challenge each other toward keeping commitments and toward obedience to God’s Word. They affirm progress and adjustment to thinking, plans, and action where needed.
What evidences can be seen that transformation is taking place in the lives of attenders? Consider the following:
- accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord
- hunger for God’s presence through prayer and Bible reading
- faithfulness in group and worship attendance
- concern about others
- testimony about how God is at work around and/or in the attender
- a need to share an insight about God’s Word
- change in priorities and behaviors
- change in language and thinking
- concern for other believers and for those who are lost
- willingness to serve in or through the class and church
- witnessing to people in the attender’s world
- increased tithing and giving
- ministering to others, locally or globally
- and much more.
How does this transformation take place in and through a Sunday School class? Consider these ideas and practices during the coming months:
- Prayer. Seek God’s leadership here. Pray for the specific sheep in your care. Ask for help in preparing and presenting the truths of God’s Word in ways that will impact their lives.
- Transform. Think transform, not teach. Think life-change, not knowledge. Think disciple, not learner. Plan lessons, application, and activities that will move attenders one more step toward being like Jesus.
- Expand. There are 168 hours each week for transformation to take place. Not all efforts have to occur in one hour on Sunday morning.
- Encourage. Set up time and methods for encouragement and accountability. Ask for testimonies and reports. Assign prayer and accountability partners. Catch people doing something good and affirm them.
- Reflect. Take time each year (and throughout the year) for class members to set goals and make plans for transformation into the likeness of Jesus. Stop periodically to allow members to evaluate and adjust their plans.
- Plan. Take time as a class or class leadership team to consider what class plans could accelerate the growth and transformation of attenders. Would an emphasis on spiritual disciplines help? Are mission trips/activities needed? Is a special study needed? Where are attenders struggling and in need of assistance?
- Goals. Set goals as a class related to transformation. How many people do you want serving in the class and/or in the church? How many do you want to witness or make contacts? How many do you want going on a mission trip or ministry project? Goals can be motivational.
- Measure. Measure your progress toward goals. Measure faithfulness in attendance. Measure each of the categories listed above. Even when concrete numbers are unavailable, make estimates in areas you consider important. Work to be able to measure these areas in some way.
What would you add to this list? Stop teaching, and start making disciples. Stop delivering content, and start changing lives. Pause to see the results. Adjust your plans were needed. Never, never give up. Lives are at stake–not only those now in your care, but those they will impact as well! Transform lives though your class this year!
Darryl Wilson serves as the Sunday School & Discipleship Consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He served as Minister of Education in five churches in Kentucky and South Carolina. He is the author of The Sunday School Revolutionary!, a blog about life-changing Sunday School and small groups.