Over and over again, I remind my Education Staff of this principle: The secret to success is the involvement of people. This is true with the Little League baseball organization, the PTA, the civic club, politics; and it is certainly true of Sunday School. Sunday School puts more people to work in the church than any other ministry. It gets more people involved in ministry than any other organization or program. Sunday School is the most practical way I know to fulfill Ephesians 4:11-12:
“And he (Jesus) gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
This passage instructs “pastors and teachers” to equip the saints to do ministry, to get people trained and involved in helping and growing others. It is then, and only then, the church will experience numerical and spiritual growth.
I had the privilege of leading a three-day conference in the Ukraine for 400 pastors. During that time, I taught them about their need to start small groups. In most of their churches, they only have a worship service. Therefore, only two people are busy doing ministry: the pastor and worship leader. I tried to help them understand the need for small groups and the vitality it would bring to their churches when the saints got busy doing ministry. At the end of each session, I would have them say with me: “The secret to success is the involvement of people.” They really took to this, and it became a fun and delightful time for them.
I must confess I am amazed at churches that want to eliminate Sunday School. I must ask:
- Is there another ministry that gets people involved like Sunday School?
- Is there a better mechanism in a local church to mobilize people for evangelism?
- Is there a better way to minister to people?
- Is there a better way to place people in an environment for relationship building?
- Is there a better way to teach people the Word of God?
- Is there a better way to assimilate new believers?
I must confess I have not found anything that effectively incorporates the Great Commission in tangible, practical ways better than Sunday School. Many have become skeptics of Sunday School when I believe many should champion her cause. Sunday School encourages Jesus’ teaching about servanthood:
“But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).
Jesus promoted serving and ministering to others; Sunday School promotes serving and ministering to others. We practice servanthood when we teach, witness to unbelievers, visit the hospital, provide food for those who have lost a loved one, etc. Sunday School involves people as teachers, outreach leaders, care group leaders, fellowship leaders, department directors, secretaries, greeters, and administrators. Sunday School must minister to newborns, senior adults, and everyone in between. Forgive the redundancy, but Sunday School involves people in vital ministry that makes an eternal difference in the lives of those whom Jesus loves.
So the question we must ask is: Do we have enough people in ministry? I do not know of a church that has all of the Sunday School workers it needs, and this is good. If you have all you need, then your organization is too small and is in desperate need of expansion.
Allan Taylor is one of the speakers on the All Star Sunday School Training Team.