Sunday School, in its inception, was created out of a desire to minister to “the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-ff.). Robert Raikes, a newspaper editor in Great Britain around 1780, began the movement out of a desire to help poor children who worked during the week and did not have the opportunity to go to school. He began a “Sabbath school” to teach these children to read with the Bible as one of the textbooks and to provide for physical needs as well. Christians in North America would then begin Sunday School as the major outreach and evangelism arm of the church.
I want to suggest to you that one of the ways to grow your Sunday School and reach people in your community is to encourage every Bible study class to be involved in an ongoing service/mission project. How do you do that?
Look at the passions and concerns of the class. One of the questions I often ask people I meet is what do you really enjoying doing on a day off when there is not a “honey do” list? After hearing their response, I make note of it and write it down on a note card. Is there some way I can enlist this person on a ministry/service project using their gifts? I started a Children’s Coloring Committee at my last two churches because I knew children loved to color. I got teachers to print out Christian coloring pages and the children colored those pages and gave them to the deacons and staff to take to shut-ins and patients in the hospital. (You can have them draw pictures as well!) Children love to draw and color. I wanted them to use their passion for ministry and help them feel that they are the church of the present, not just the future. (See “Serving Through Sunday School” blog for more.)
Consider what the class sees as “the least of these.” One of my professors, Bill Cooley at Samford University, once made this statement about God’s will and service. “If you see a need, and you have the passions and gifts to meet that need, then it is probably God’s will for you to get involved.” What does the class see as a need and have the passions/desire to meet? It may vary from individuals in the community/church (I have lots of examples) or it may be a cause that they are passionate about.
In my last church we had a senior adult member who was passionate about recycling and using the money for missions. Many church members got involved in this worthy project and brought their paper and aluminum to the church. Thousands of dollars have been raised for many mission projects…thanks to Joe Momon!
Though some may focus on local missions/service projects, I want to suggest a couple of projects that go beyond your Jerusalem. I encourage you to consider checking out this website to sponsor a child for school: http://savethemonebyone.com/. Jennifer Chappell started this ministry five years ago to help poor children go to school. Since then over 500 children are sponsored and a church is being built.
I want to encourage you to be involved with a VBMB project, More Than Nets. Virginia Baptists aim to put a dent in the spread of malaria through a two-year project launched Nov. 13 to distribute 100,000 chemically-treated mosquito nets in Ghana, where the disease is the No. 1 cause of death. For ten dollars you can purchase a net, help with medical professionals to go to Ghana and provide money to start 300 new churches in a mostly Muslim population. What a great message to send to “the least of these” as we seek to eradicate malaria and share the good news! Call 1-800-255-2428 and ask for Glocal Missions to find out more.
Reach People for Bible study that you never thought possible! Many people will join you on a service/missions project in the pew and community that are not in Bible study already. This is a way to build community with them and get them excited about being a part of something great. The bottom line is ministering to “the least of these” is a requirement as Christians and Sunday School is one of the best ways for this to happen!