Changing Sunday School

Our 20s & 30s class is seriously considering changing the way we do Sunday school. It is not that we want less Bible study it is more that we need a time and place where we can plan to make a real difference. I am not sure how all this is going to work out yet it is still in the prayer and planning stage. So far I am thinking about making the environment more devotional in nature with time set aside each week to do something or plan something together for that week to make a difference. These things could include:

  • Writing cards to visitors
  • Praying for our congregation and the lost
  • Getting up early and taking food to the homeless, return for worship
  • Worship via singing, scripture and prayer
  • Planning and coordinating service to those outside the congregation

Have any of you ever tried anything like this? If so, I would be curious to hear your feedback. One concern I have heard in the past is what do you do about visitors who show up and our class is out serving. My response is, I bet that when they see the sign on the door of where we are going and what we are doing they will probably come back as they see we are outward focused enough to do something that makes a difference.

Thoughts?

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

11 Responses to Changing Sunday School

  1. nick gill says:

    do you have enough people to multiply your group? So each group has a service project every other week, while the other lingers prayerfully over the word together for a longer period of time?

    Because I think you’re dreaming (it’s a good dream, but a dream nonetheless) about the people coming back. People who are going to “try, try again” are probably already locked in somewhere.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Good thought. We have plenty of people to split this up and that would also allow us to pray for what we are doing while it is in progress. The rationale behind people coming back was that we would not be gone two weeks in a row so if they came once and we happened not to be there they would always catch us the next week. But your suggestion addresses that issue head on.

  2. Hank says:

    My concern would be that if people see the “Bible Class” being replaced by something they could just as easily do from home on their own (writing cards, praying for the church, etc.), than they won’t feel as though they’ve missed anything too big if they just go ahead and stay home. Unfortunate as it may be, I believe a lot of brethren subconsciously look for reasons to not come.

    My suggestion would be to make any activity that would replace “Bible Class” be only those things that cannot be done from home all alone. Feeding the hungry, visiting the discouraged (perhaps moving the Bible class, singing, and praying – to a place where others would be uplifted by being a part of it), or something like that. I think it would be good (and likely necessary), to plan on starting earlier than the 9:15 class normally does. In each of those cases, the members of the class who do participate, would see and feel the good done right then and there (building them up and motivating them to even more good works).

    Finally, I believe that the current class should be informed, challenged, as well as held accountable. I think it would be wise to know who all are actually down for something like that and then let those same ones know they are counted on to be there. The uncommitted err…. weaker brethren err… the rest, can have their own class, go to another one, or stay home. I believe that the good being done by the ones who do participate would serve as a big motivator to all.

    I do not believe it would be good to simple announce the activity and then just say, “hope to see you there..” People should be asked if they are in favor of the activity. And then they should be expected to

    • nick gill says:

      Can’t write group cards from home. Can’t pray as a group from home (well, I guess this is the 21st century, but you know what I mean).

      B/C, if you really want to get real, you can do the Bible study from home, and the singing from home, too.

      I’m noticing, also, that from what Matt wrote, this isn’t a top-down change – this is something that the class as a whole is being driven to consider.

  3. Hank says:

    …to follow through with their commitment. IOW, actually show their faith by their works🙂

  4. Hank says:

    I do hope I didn’t just sound like a jerk with the above. I just believe that people will often do more when they feel that they are needed and are acutally counted on. Just think it would be very discouraging to have everybody say, “yeah, let’s do that” and then hardly anybody show.

  5. mattdabbs says:

    One of the things that has influenced my thinking on this is from Andy Stanley’s 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. At Northpoint, it appears they do an excellent job of creating environments for the things they believe are biblically most important to God and the church. We have several places one can study the Bible and certainly Sunday morning will continue to provide that in some form or fashion on a regular basis because all we do needs to be grounded in scripture. The problem is for every 10-15 things we provide for church members (inreach) on a good day we might provide one way to outreach. That just seems out of balance with what the early church was up to. Sunday morning Bible class didn’t even start until the 1800’s or so in England and so while it is a BIG traditional thing we do, it can still have some flexibility as long as the things we choose to put in that time slot have biblical basis and are advancing God’s kingdom. That’s my perspective and I am very, very open to the perspective of others including all the class members.

  6. Darin says:

    I’d be interested to find out how many visitors you have that show up for Bible Class from your community.

  7. Frank B. says:

    Matt, I haven’t read the previous comments just yet. But I like the idea of having some sort of plan or outlet so that people will be encouraged to act in response to what they believe. It’s so easy for me to be a hearer, but not a doer. Making a way for people to do something together as an act of faith often requires a good bit of planning and set up. But the results can be really beautiful. Those who have been appointed deacons could be commissioned do some of this work.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Thanks Frank,

      We have several deacons on board but could certainly get more involved. I didn’t do that intentionally…it is a good idea to be more intentional about that.

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