28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. (Luke 14:28-33)
Doing Sunday School, the way of discipleship, is hard work, and we need to count the cost. It requires sacrifice and thinking beyond the traditions of the past 50 years! There was a time we could simply invite people to Bible study on Sunday mornings, and people would come. Today, churches need to go back to the inception of Sunday School and see it as a missionary movement. What does this require from our churches?
This type of Sunday School requires a different mindset. It requires getting past the voices that say, “We have always done it this way.” The persons in charge of Christian education need to get beyond age graded classes for adults to affinity based groups, from Sunday morning in classrooms to anytime and anyplace, as well as, thinking about places in the community where persons gather who are not in Bible study. It is best to gather a team to do this kind of work and bathe it all in prayer.
This type of Sunday School requires teachers to see themselves as missionaries looking to provide an environment for transformation rather than knowledge. Teachers are seeking to be facilitators of transformation rather than experts (See “Relationship not Bible Knowledge”.) Leaders need to have their teachers begin to think and pray about Sunday School as an evangelistic/discipling endeavor rather than traditional models from the past (See the blog from my archives: Missional through Sunday School.) See the blog “Sunday School as Part of Discipleship” to move to transformation rather than knowledge.
This type of Sunday School requires teachers to see themselves as disciple-makers. Whether it is teaching a lesson for transformation in discipleship or discipling someone else to teach, teachers need to move in this direction. Someone who teaches has a 90% retention rate in what he/she learned from the lesson. Inviting others to teach leads to spiritual growth for them. As discovered in most churches, churches need more teachers. Every teacher needs an apprentice to provide more teachers to start new groups.
A quote to consider as you pray about the work of Sunday School:
The religion that costs nothing, that demands no hard sacrifices of other things, that does not lift the life out of low-level motives, is worth little and makes little difference to the life. The type of religion on the other hand, which costs the all, which makes the cross the central fact that dominates the life as its one driving power, becomes an incalculable force and turns many to salvation.
– Rufus Jones, from The World Within — p. 43
Count the cost, know it requires work and sacrifice, and move Sunday School to a new level in Christian education!