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Tony Brooks: Sunday School and Cultural Shifts

Posted: 2/19/19 at 11:40am. Post by Tony Brooks.

No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins. (Mark 2:21-22 NIV)

This is a revised blog post from July 2013, but it is highly relevant today.  

We live in a much different world than even 30 years ago. Though our Gospel message is the same, we need to make some changes in the way we deliver that message.

There are two changes I want to highlight today based on a conference Glenn Akins, BGAV Assistant Executive Director, attended 7-8 years ago about the six marketplace realities that changed 20 years ago.

Time.

Americans are working longer work weeks, and 80% of families have both parents working outside the home. There are adults who work on Sunday as well and cannot attend a Sunday morning Sunday School class. Do we have alternative times for Bible study classes?

Many parents are struggling to balance spiritual activities due to their children’s schedules on the weekends with travel teams and other extracurricular events during the week. Do we have the possibility for Sunday School on the go?

Training for teachers may still work as a weekly workers’ meeting on Wednesday nights for some churches, but not for many. What do we do about training and helps? 

Technology.

The internet arrived in early 1990s, and then grew by 100% annually during that decade. Social media arrived in 2005. Ninety-six percent of millennials have joined a social network.

How are we doing adapting to the new technical realities? Are we caught up, lagging, or leading?

Here are some possible solutions to both realities:

  1. Have a small group Bible study at alternative times. Whether in a person’s home, workplace at lunch, or in a community store, Bible study can happen anywhere and anytime.
  2. Is it possible to record the Sunday morning Bible study and send it out for those who miss?
  3. Is it possible to use Skype or something similar to have persons away on the weekend participate using their laptops?
  4. Send a one-page summary of discussions of the class by email or Facebook. Find ways to share commentary during the week using technology.
  5. Give a tear sheet or one-page summary by email to parents of children who are away on Sunday to discuss as a family.
  6. Thanks to Tamara Tillman Smathers at FBC Rome, GA, for this idea: you may want to try a website for a teachers’ forum on the lesson each week. Set up a page on your website or a closed Facebook page for teachers to share ideas, personal experiences, and stories during the week to prepare for Sunday’s lesson.
  7. Have a college-away class by computer to include students in a weekly Bible study.

Our world has changed. Let’s just admit that fact. We simply need to ask ourselves, “How can we share the Gospel message in this ever-changing world?” When we do, I believe I see new wineskins!   

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