As I continue to reflect on “starting with why” in the ministry of Sunday School, I left you with my definition. Sunday School, at its best, is to provide an ongoing learning experience which leads to: discipleship through Bible study that lingers throughout the week, ministry to each other, service in the community, reaching people for Christ and providing a deeper fellowship.
There is no way to tackle all of these areas in one blog. It usually takes me two hours with a church to introduce the concepts! Let me start with the challenge of an ongoing Bible study experience that lingers throughout the week. Sunday School is simply an open, small group Bible study that can take place in the church on Sunday morning (or other times) or anywhere in the community that leads to an open, honest dialogue about the Scriptures and moves to life transformation. Let’s tackle the when and where first!
We have to move past thinking that Sunday School is simply a Sunday morning endeavor. When we say that small group, open Bible study only happens on Sunday morning, we are excluding a large population of people who work that day. We are telling them that their priorities are out of order and they should quit their job, or they are not important enough at our church to have small group Bible studies at other times! Have Bible studies based on the needs of the church and community, not just by tradition.
Now to the heart of what I mean by Sunday School/Bible study as an ongoing learning experience that lingers throughout the week. Teaching for transformative discipleship is kind of like gardening. You can quote me on this: “Teaching is as much about cultivating and nourishing the soil as it is planting the seeds.” Transformative teaching requires a level of care and trust with the students. It requires an openness to discuss varying opinions without a person feeling judged. It requires a systematic approach to wrestle with the text throughout the week.
So I leave you with some questions to ponder:
Are you providing a safe, trusting, caring, open and confidential environment for transformative Bible study? (People want to ask and wrestle with hard questions and not just receive easy answers. They want to see how Scripture applies to daily living.)
Are you using a variety of teaching styles to provide the best opportunity for learning? (We don’t all learn the same. Use different styles to get the most out of the learning environment.)
Do you provide other questions, reflections or comments for them to wrestle with during the week after the study? (You can use handouts to take home, Facebook, e-mails, twitter and even texting to continue the learning experience.)
The bottom line…Sunday School is more than just an hour on Sunday morning. It is a daily journey as Jesus’ disciples…more to come soon!