“…For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ…”Ephesians 4:12
Our church’s ministry focuses on extending an open and persistent invitation for the world to know Christ and become part of His body. This is why we end every service with a time of invitation, pleading with lost souls to come forward and find new life in Christ. This is why we have a team of people stationed all over campus every Sunday morning, welcoming every person who walks through our church doors. This is why we send resources and people all across the world every year for international missions. And—this is why we have Sunday School.
Sunday School engages people from the moment they step on campus. Whether someone is nine months old, nine years old, or 90-years-old—every guest who visits our church on any given Sunday morning has a group of people in their age and life stage ready to offer a seat at their table. You’ll have a hard time playing the ghost at our church, floating on and off-campus without being seen or known. That is because we pair a shoulder-to-shoulder worship experience with face-to-face fellowship offered for every person every Sunday.
To pull this off, we need a small army of people, well beyond the size of any church staff. Sunday School puts all the saints to work. It takes hundreds of volunteer leaders each week who are preparing lessons, contacting class members, showing up early, and staying late. Sunday School also relies on every class member to be praying for friends, family, and coworkers who need Christ and inviting them to come.
Over time, Sunday School has shown itself to be an effective ministry, both for reaching non-believers and discipling new believers. Sunday School is designed as an “open group” model, meaning that the group “meets weekly and can be joined at any time throughout the year without any prerequisites.” Thom Rainer, who conducted research on Sunday School with LifeWay, said his studies “consistently revealed that when nonbelievers connected to open groups such as Sunday School, it dramatically increased the likelihood of that person coming to faith in Jesus as Savior.” In a 2008 study, Rainer found that 83% of new believers who connected immediately with a Sunday School class were still actively involved five years later. Sunday School brings people in and gives them a place to belong.
Sunday School is more than just a ministry model. At its best, it creates a culture of evangelism and discipleship that pervades the entire church. It is the job not only of the paid staff but of the “unpaid staff” (volunteer leaders) and every single class member to extend God’s invitation every week to people who need to know Christ. Sunday School is how we “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). It’s how we unleash them into the world as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Reaching the lost is a task for all the saints, and Sunday School is a proven way to mobilize and empower the entire church to take part in God’s work.