One of my top five Gallup StrengthsFinders strengths is Futuristic. No, that does not mean I am can tell the future. I am neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet. What it simply means is that I can sometimes figure out what may coming and I am constantly interested in what may be coming next. And with some thought, I likely will have an opinion.
I found the title question to be intriguing. So what is the future of Sunday School? I have written about related issues in the past. Check out these blog posts:
- Could High Gas Prices Impact Sunday School Attendance?
- Are Home Bible Study Groups the Answer to the Simple Church?
- Could Satellite Sunday School Be in Your Future?
- The Future: Sunday School over the Web?
There are many dynamics in our lives and world today that should be given some consideration. In fact, there are too many to give thorough treatment in a blog post. So I will only venture to mention a handful of issues. Consider the following possibilities:
- Managers versus leaders. Some Sunday Schools will be led by managers, desiring to maintain the status quo (like the servant in Matthew 25 who hid his master’s money in the ground). In the days ahead, those Sunday Schools and churches will experience decline in people, resources, and impact. Other Sunday Schools will be led by leaders, who will pray, evaluate, identify needs, share a vision, and plan a strategy with a group of believers who will follow toward increased effectiveness and enlarged capacity for care and growth. I am seeing some hopeful instances of leaders impacting Sunday Schools and churches.
- Inward versus outward. Some Sunday Schools will focus on teaching and care for those who are already there. I have heard individuals in these Sunday Schools say, “We don’t want anyone new in our class” or “We already have enough in our class.” Outward Sunday Schools recognize that the Great Commission is not finished. There are still sheep not in the sheep pen (John 10:16). They will befriend, care, pray, invite, start new classes, and do whatever it takes to lead people to the Savior and disciple them through their groups. I am seeing a hopeful shift toward outward focus.
- Event versus strategy. Event Sunday Schools will focus efforts on what happens during one hour on Sunday morning. Preparation is all about what happens in the classroom. Strategy Sunday Schools will use all 168 hours of the week to carry out Great Commission work through the Sunday School of making disciples of all nations. I am seeing a hopeful shift toward Sunday School strategy.
- Attraction versus discipleship. Attraction is about growing worship large and hoping to catch a few attenders for Sunday School. Discipleship is about growing believers into the likeness of Jesus and mobilizing them into the harvest. This tends to keep people connected and inviting others. I am hearing exciting stories of classes impacting their communities and the world.
As I mentioned, there are many other future issues. Some of those include:
- Technology. This will help and hurt. People will be even more distracted, but contact and communication methods will increase. Number of classes will increase that utilize technology for including sick, traveling, and homebound members. Others will be launched to reach people for their first Sunday School experiences.
- Curriculum. Printed curriculum will decline as publishers offer even more electronic choices. This could increase member lesson interaction between group sessions.
- Name. Sunday School will continue for a long time to come, but Sunday School as a brand name will continue to decline. It will be renamed by many in an effort to get beyond negative perceptions of former attenders and to make groups more available at other times and places.
- Proliferation. We are such a mobile world. To address time and location issues, groups will be started in many places and during all hours and days during the week. I believe these efforts could easily be a wave of future church planting of the future.
- Storying. I believe this model of Sunday School lesson will grow slowly because it communicates so powerfully with today’s generation in nearly every ethnic group around the world. Check out the series beginning with this post: Sunday School: Telling the Bible Story, Part 1.
Wow, Sunday School of the future has so much potential. But it will likely look different. And that is a good thing as we seek to make the most impact in our world for Jesus Christ before He returns. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!
Press Comments above to add issues to the conversation. I look forward to reading your thoughts.
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.