Home | BGAV Blog | Tony Brooks: Making Sunday School/Small Groups Culturally Relevant Today

Tony Brooks: Making Sunday School/Small Groups Culturally Relevant Today

Posted: 5/22/18 at 12:10pm. Post by Tony Brooks.

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (I Corinthians 9:19-22 NIV)

I have just come back from our meeting of the State Sunday School Directors Association in Texas. Each year we gather as state specialists to learn from each other. The theme was An Unchanging Gospel in a Dynamic Culture. The overarching question that I pondered from one of our speakers: What are we doing now (outside of technology) with Sunday School leaders differently than we did 20, 30, or 40 years ago?

Here are a few thoughts that may help your educational ministries as you consider Sunday School and small groups and how to be effective today:

  1. Today is more like the first century culture for Christianity. The majority of people my age and younger are biblically illiterate. They are less likely to go to church. Many don’t want to know about Christianity or God (and honestly, many Christians’ behavior is the reason!). So what do we do as Sunday School leaders?
    Love people where they are—with no agendas!

    Love people where they are—with no agendas! Jesus didn’t push people to the synagogue with his words. He didn’t chastise them for wrong beliefs (except the religious leaders.) He loved people where they are and planted seeds of possibilities through healings, teachings, and conversations. People of today’s culture want to belong to community long before they are willing to hear what you have to say. Encourage your teachers and care group leaders to love on prospects and inactive members without pushing Sunday School/small groups.

  2. We have to meet people where they are before Bible Study is a possibility. Many will not come to church to start with. Once you build community and show them that you really love them for who they are, you may want to start asking questions about values and about where they go for support in tough times. That will likely lead to questions about why you are offering help. Your answer can be: Because that is what Jesus would do. Don’t preach! Honestly share how God works in your life, and continue to love them where they are!
  3. When they are ready to go deeper, you may ask them to come to your class or group. Most people come to Bible study because a friend invites them.
  4. What if they say no to coming to your class/group? Would they be willing to come to your house to form a supper club and eventually a Bible study? Are you willing to do this? Chances are they would take this option over coming to church. Perhaps you could start a Bible study at work with permission. If it is effective in applying scripture to life situations, others will hear about it and want to join.
  5. Begin everything with prayer! Do you pray at work for your coworkers and customers? You may be amazed at how God opens doors when you do and at how community is formed. Pastors, do you go to members’ workplaces and pray for them? You should try it, and see what doors God opens for you.

I am writing this post on Pentecost Sunday, and I’m reminded of the 120 followers of Jesus who followed his instructions as they waited and prayed in Jerusalem. When the Holy Spirit came that day, our world changed dramatically. God can do the same through you! Do it again, Lord! Do it again!

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