As a pastor, I am passionate about Sunday School and small groups. My passion for Sunday School and small groups goes back to my childhood, specifically to a lady named Sue Creech. Most people reading this article do not know Mrs. Sue, but she is a lady that God used to transform my life and the life of the church I currently serve.
When I was in eighth grade, my family and I traveled more than 30 minutes to attend church until I totaled my parents’ brand new vehicle while taking a joyride in our side yard. We could no longer drive to the church we had been attending because we did not have transportation.
Sunday School then
Mount Pisgah Baptist Church was within walking distance from our house, but like most teenagers, I was apprehensive about attending a new church where I did not know anyone. This is where Mrs. Sue steps into the story.
She was the youth Sunday School teacher at Mount Pisgah. She visited our home, inviting me to her Sunday School class. I politely declined, but a month later she was back inviting me to her Sunday School class again. I reluctantly agreed to go so she would leave me alone.
While visiting the Sunday School, I made friends and learned a lot about Jesus, so I decided to stay. Many great Sunday School teachers invested in me at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, and eventually, my church called the Rev. Richard Hicks to be its senior pastor. Under his ministry, God began to work in my heart, and I came to know Christ. I was called into full-time ministry, and it all started because a Sunday School teacher cared enough about me to invite me to her class and tell me about Jesus.
Sunday School now
When I became the senior pastor of Tar Heel Baptist Church, I knew that Sunday School would play a big role in our church, but what I didn’t know was how much impact it would have on the church. Our desire at Tar Heel Baptist Church is that each Sunday School class would be a Great Commission class. We encourage every class to reach, teach and minister based on the book The Six Core Values of Sunday School by Allan Taylor.
I knew that Sunday School would play a big role in our church, but what I didn’t know was how much impact it would have on the church.
Each Sunday, we ask that the Sunday School teacher teach a 20-30 minute lesson, and at the conclusion of the lesson, give a gospel invitation for people to accept Jesus as their Savior and respond. After the lesson, the class outreach leader assigns class members people to contact who have visited the church and or the Sunday School class. He or she also discusses opportunities for outreach through local and international ministries.
Finally, the class divides into care groups of no more than 12 people. This is a time for the care group leaders to take prayer requests and assign care group members to contact those who are missing from their care group that week.
Sunday School brings revitalization
God has blessed the Sunday School ministry at Tar Heel Baptist Church. Overall, the Sunday School attendance has almost doubled in the past three years. One of our biggest annual outreach events, “Share Loud,” is done through Sunday School. We encourage every Sunday School class from toddlers through senior adults to do a mission project with a local ministry they have partnered with.
Some of the classes really think outside of the box, and we have had Sunday School classes sing for rest home residents, provide a meal to first responders on Sept.11, plant a garden and build a chicken coop for a drug rehabilitation facility, clean a common area at a local primary school, provide middle school teachers with supplies for the year, and provide essentials for families of hospice patients. One class has partnered with a North American Mission Board church planter in Puerto Rico, and they are not just sending money. Together, they are planning their second trip to minister there in the fall.
At Tar Heel Baptist Church, we have seen God use Sunday School to draw people to Himself, and, in turn, revitalize our church. I am sure Mrs. Sue could not have imagined the eternal impact she would have from inviting a young boy to Sunday School all those years ago.
So I encourage you, go invite the kid down the street, the elderly person who lives next door, the young family who just moved in across the street to Sunday School. You will never know the eternal impact it can make.