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Tony Brooks: How Small Groups Are Complementary to Sunday School

Posted: 9/4/18 at 11:50am. Post by Tony Brooks.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42 NIV)

Sunday School has been a major component of the church’s outreach and evangelism arm since the early 1800s.

It has served the church well over these centuries in reaching people, teaching people the Bible, and moving them to being strong followers of Christ through Sunday morning classes at church.

Sunday School, in many churches over the years, often had more attendees than those churches’ worship services. We can be thankful for the past.

Sunday School in the last 50 years has lost a lot of its momentum. Worship services in many places are double and triple the size of Sunday School attendance.

What went wrong? How can we disciple people who only come to worship?

Some pastors try to disciple them with a 45- minute sermon. (You may want to consider Edgar Dale’s learning retention research regarding this idea; listeners only retain 5% of what you are saying! (See this article.)

Another challenge to Sunday School is threefold:

  1. A large number of adults work some or most Sundays. Are we going to provide other times for small group Bible study besides Sunday mornings?
  2. Many parents have children on traveling teams on the weekends. Are we going to try to guilt them into not going to those sporting events? (It won’t work to guilt them!)
  3. We have an aging population that can’t drive or make it to church. Are we going to help them continue to study God’s Word?

So how do we help our people with discipleship? Start small groups during the week.

The value of a small group is flexibility! You can set up small group Bible studies in homes, in the workplace, with traveling teams, in restaurants, in nursing homes, and in many other places.

If it is an open, small group Bible study, it counts as Sunday School! Remember Sunday School is about reaching new people, teaching them the Bible, and moving them to becoming a transformative follower of Christ.

Next week I will write about ways to set up small groups. If you want to learn all of the essentials, join us for this Small Group Discipleship Conference.

Brooks-TonyTony Brooks is our Sunday School/Discipleship Specialist and Field Strategist for the Southside Region. You may email him at tony.brooks@bgav.org. Follow Tony on Twitter: @TonyBrooks7