IMG_0356And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
1 Thessalonians 1:7 (NIV)

I have a challenge to large Sunday School churches: embrace your God-given role as leading churches in your area.

I don’t know how many times I have heard people say of a large church in their area, “They just seem to just do their own thing,” and, “They don’t do anything with the rest of us.”

I had a Minister of Education say it to me out right one time. I was scheduled to do a meeting at his church. I was encouraging him to invite the other churches in his area. His response: “We don’t really are about the other churches.” I am not making this up. You should care!

One church that does this in spades is First Baptist Church, Woodstock. Check out their Go Forward Conference at They do this every year. Good for you, Woodstock! Would that every leading church would embrace their calling to lead like Woodstock.

Those of us who attend small churches need to go to a big church every now and then and just see that God is up to something bigger than we are.

I have been privileged to speak at First Baptist Houston’s midnight madness a couple of times. They do a training event every January that goes till midnight. Last year there were nine hundred people in the room. Nine hundred Sunday School workers! Wow! For a guy who preaches to thirty farmers every week, it was pretty inspirational.

Paul said to First Church, Thessalonica, “you became a model to churches in the whole region” (my paraphrase). Leading churches need to embrace this role and lead.

A lot of people think Sunday School won’t work anymore. I am in a lot of churches where it is working wonderfully. I get to see these churches quite regularly. It is one of the reasons I still believe in Sunday School. I get to see these churches, but a lot of people don’t.

Here are some practical suggestions for leading churches to lead:

  • Keep doing what you are doing; just invite outsiders to join in on the fun. I am thinking now of the training that you do. Leading churches got where they are because they know the value of training their people. You know how to put on training events. Just open the doors. I was in Whitesburg Baptist in Huntsville again recently. What a wonderful church! They do training events like most churches can only imagine. What a blessing to the rest of us to be able to participate.
  • Charge outside churches a reasonable fee. Just because we are small doesn’t mean we are poor. Have a fee for individuals, smaller churches, and medium-sized churches. Allow us to help pay our own way. We want to contribute financially. You might also have scholarships for those who can’t afford.
  • Develop an email list to keep advertising costs down. Collect email addresses at every event and use the list to promote future events. You might have a blog where you share your learnings and collect email addresses. I recommend WordPress for blogging. Let me know if you need help setting it up. I use for my email list.
  • Allow testimonies from your teachers and ours. If you hear of one of our teachers that is doing well, allow them to share. There is nothing like the power of example. We need examples as much as we need someone to tell us how to do it. Ken Hemphill and I did an All Star meeting in Lyons, GA recently. FBC Lyons is not a mega-church, but it is a leading church in their area. They are a great example of a church where Sunday School is doing well. Dannie Williams shared a great testimony about how Sunday School is working in their church. It made everything Dr. Hemphill and I were trying to say come alive. Nothing like the power of testimony.
  • Cooperate with the State Convention and Association to maximize your promotion.
  • Be humble in your attitude. People are happy to follow, but they won’t follow if you have a condescending attitude. There are people we will be able to reach that you won’t. The opposite is also true. We are in this together. We are all on the same team.

People have the idea that home groups are the way of the future. You want to know why? Because home group churches are leading. Willowcreek is leading. Saddleback is leading. Northpoint is leading. We need more leading Sunday School churches to lead. If you are a leading Sunday School church, let me ask you: lead!