Making disciples may sound like a daunting idea for some Sunday School teachers. But truthfully, we are always “making disciples.” The question is, “What are we discipling our people into?”
Make no mistake, the folks who faithfully attend your Sunday School class are learning from you. But what are they learning? As Sunday School teachers, we want to make sure that we create a culture that is focused on making disciples of Christ who make disciples of Christ. Here are three questions to evaluate the “disciple-making culture” of your Sunday School class.
Am I dependent upon the power of the Spirit or my own power?
In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, the apostle Paul makes it clear that when he came to Corinth, he was afraid. He did not come in his own power, with “lofty speech or wisdom,” but he came in weakness and “in demonstration of the Spirit and power.” Paul knew that his wisdom and strength were not enough, and he knew that making disciples is spiritual work. We will never effect change in someone’s life by our own wisdom and ability. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
Paul tells the Corinthians that he came “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” There may be many in your Sunday School class because they believe that you are a great teacher. We need to ask ourselves whether or not they are dependent upon our power or upon the power of the Spirit. If we as teachers are communicating consciously or subconsciously that we are depending on our own knowledge, wisdom and righteousness, then our classes will do the same. Our eloquence will not change lives. We must communicate in word and action that only the Holy Spirit can change lives.
Is my class “information centered” or “gospel centered?”
All of us want our Sunday School class to grow in their faith in Christ and in their walk in righteousness. But are we teaching in such a way that this can happen?
Knowing the content of the Bible will not necessarily change lives. The power of God for salvation is not being able to recite all 66 books of the Bible or knowing which gospels are synoptic. I’m afraid that many Sunday School teachers think that information will accomplish transformation, but it will not. Biblical information is good, and we want our class to know and understand the information and themes of the Bible. Transformation, however, is only brought about by the power of the gospel.
Only in the gospel is the righteousness of God revealed, and if we want to see our classes grow spiritually, we must master applying the gospel to their lives in our Sunday School lessons. At some point in our weekly lesson, we must move from teaching information to applying the gospel.
How can I spend time with individuals outside of class?
Making disciples in Sunday School may start in class, but it cannot end there. We should seek to faithfully apply the gospel to the class as a whole, but we must also spend time with individuals outside of class.
Thousands followed Jesus, but He spent time with 12. And, within the 12, Jesus spent more time with Peter, James and John than He did the others. So, just like Jesus, we should identify a few in our class whom we can personally disciple, and then we should carve out an hour or two each week to study the Bible and pray with them. This is the biblical model of discipleship.
Sunday School is a tool, but making disciples involves a personal relationship and time. If we are going to build a culture that makes disciples, then we must be willing to invest time outside of our classrooms on Sunday morning.
A disciple-making culture that changes lives and impacts lostness can only be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of the gospel. Make no mistake — it will take an investment on our behalf. If we want to make disciples, we must invest in someone else who will make disciples, as well.
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