Acerca de

A Great Church Needs

A GREAT Sunday School!

By Rodney Pry, Executive Director of the P.S.S.S.A.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

            In today’s world, an alarming number of churches have decided to stop holding Sunday school.  And many others are having big problems; their attendance is down and they have big problems finding quality teachers and leaders.  With these facts in mind, we were going to call this article “Your Church Needs Sunday School.”  But, you know, the more we thought about it, we realized that churches don’t just need Sunday school…they need a GREAT Sunday school.

            This article is an examination of the importance of Sunday school and a look at ideas for ways that you can become a truly “great” Sunday school.  It is divided into three different parts: In this first section, we will try to help you examine the state or health of your present Sunday school and show you the importance of having a GREAT Sunday school.  Then in the second part, we will think about the importance of the teachers that you have in your Sunday school and think about how to help them become even better and more effective in their work for the Lord.  And finally, in section three, we will look at some of the other things that you might do to become a GREAT Sunday school, specifically looking at the importance of getting, keeping and teaching children and young adults, and ways to promote and tell others about your GREAT Sunday school.

            Before we really get down to business with this first section, just a few notes about what we will be doing.  The “Your Church Needs A Great Sunday School” program is designed to be used by individual church leaders and members or by groups such as the Church Education Committees or Sunday school classes within your church.  If you are using this program with a committee or with a special group of individuals who are concerned about Sunday school, we suggest that you get as many different people involved as possible…including your pastor, church and Sunday school teachers and leaders, and several Sunday school members and others.  If you are reading the program by yourself, We hope that it will give you some ideas that you will share with others within your church.

            One of the first things that we want to do in this opening session is to talk about the importance of Sunday school and why you need a GREAT Sunday school.

            “Your Church Needs A Great Sunday School.”  That’s not just the title of this article; it’s also what we firmly believe.  Most churches have a Sunday school, but what are those Sunday schools really doing?  In far too many cases, they are just there…they are not really doing very much if anything and they are not contributing a lot to the total life and spiritual health of the church and its members.

            In the average church today, only about one-third of the people who attend worship attend Sunday school.  And, of the people who do attend, the majority are older adults.  The number of children, youth and young adults who attend has been steadily declining in recent years.  In fact, over the past 20 years, Sunday school attendance has declined by over 25%.

            Why is this happening?  Many people today say that Sunday school is an idea that is old and out of date.  They say the lessons that are being taught are boring and not relevant to their lives and they do not address the everyday problems and concerns that people face out in the real world.

            Is Sunday school old and out of date?  We certainly don’t think so!  And the number of good, growing Sunday schools that exist across the nation attest to the effectiveness that Sunday school can still have in the lives of people of all ages.  In fact, a recent survey found that among the fastest growing churches in America today, over 80% have either Sunday school or a similar Bible study program that involves members of in-depth Bible study and small group community and fellowship building activities.

            From its beginning way back in 1780, when Robert Raikes started the very first Sunday school in Gloucester, England, Sunday school has had the goal of teaching people about God, the Bible and God’s will for their lives.  Through the years, Sunday school has been effective because of a number of elements that are a part of the program.

            First and foremost, Sunday school is about Christian education…teaching people of all ages about what’s in the Bible…God’s Word.  The Bible is our handbook, the Christian’s guide and a roadmap for our day-to-day walk with Jesus Christ.  The Bible shows us what’s right and what’s wrong.  It shows us people who followed God and those who rejected his leading.  And it shows us Jesus Christ…his life, his ministry, and the way of salvation that is available to each of us because of his death and resurrection.

            In today’s world…even among Christians…biblical illiteracy is rampant.  In fact, it is said that fewer than 5% of all Americans have even ever read the entire New Testament…and that includes a lot of Christians.  And, if you don’t know the handbook…the Bible…how can you possibly live the life that Jesus expects you to live for him?

            The American Bible Society says that about 90% of all Americans own a Bible.  But fewer than 20% read it on a “regular basis” and only about 10% say that they have a good working understanding of how to apply the lessons of the Bible to their daily lives.

            In today’s world, you need a lot of specialized training and education for just about any job or vocation that you might pursue.  And let’s face it, living each day as a Christian is a fulltime job.  So, if you are to be your best and most effective in that work, you need some specialized, in-depth training.  And where can you get that training?  By “digging in” to God’s Word…in Sunday school!

            Second, Sunday school is also important because of the way we teach.  In Sunday school you can discuss, ask questions and share personal experiences and insights as together we strive to learn what the Bible has to say to each of us…all in a relaxed, informal setting that involves students in the discovery of the truths that are found in God’s Word.

            Third, Sunday school is special because we teach people according to their age, interest and education.  Why is this important?  Because small children certainly don’t have the same understanding of God and things like grace and salvation as adults…and the problems that junior high students face are much different from those faced by older adults.

            Fourth, Sunday school is important because of the fellowship that it promotes.  We all need friends…we all need Christian friends…and Sunday school is one of the very best places to see such relationships develop.

            And fifth, Sunday school is important because of the opportunities for service that it provides…opportunities to serve both God and other people…within the church and through the church as we reach out to others in our local communities and to people around the world.

            About a hundred years ago, the great Pennsylvanian Henry J. Heinz, the founder of the Heinz pickle and catsup company, said this: “In my life, it has paid the greatest possible dividend…second only to that of a godly mother!”  What was he talking about?  Sunday school!

            Unfortunately, not very many people feel that way about Sunday school today.  But we believe that Sunday school is still of great importance.  And we believe that YOU can have a Sunday school that is growing and becoming even better and more effective as you work to teach the Bible and its meaning and application to people of all ages.  We believe that you can have a Sunday school that helps people learn about the Bible and Jesus Christ…a Sunday school that is helping people to grow spiritually and develop closer personal relationships with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

            We believe that you can have a Sunday school where people of all ages will want to attend…a Sunday school with lessons that are truly personal…lessons that touch the lives of all who attend.  And, yes, we believe that your Sunday school can bring about definite changes in the lives of each of your members and in their actions and behavior…producing true disciples for Jesus Christ.

            Is this the kind of Sunday school that you now have?  If it is, great!  But it doesn’t matter if your current Sunday school is going really great, not so good, or somewhere in the middle; we believe that you can have an even better and more effective Sunday school!  But, let us be honest and up front by telling you that it’s not going to be easy.  There is no magic wand that you can wave to instantly get a better, growing Sunday school.  If your Sunday school is to grow and become better and more effective, it’s going to take planning, hard work and a lot of prayer.  But we believe that it will be worth it!  As you work to have a better Sunday school, we are sure that you will find your entire church benefitting as members grow in their faith, commitment to Jesus Christ and in their knowledge of the Bible.

            “But,” you might say, “Our Sunday school is okay!  Do we really need to shake things up and try to make big changes in our Sunday school?  Do we really need a GREAT Sunday school?”

            To answer that, let us tell you some of the things that great Sunday schools do…things that most ordinary Sunday schools might not do:

  • First of all, great Sunday schools produce church members who have a strong knowledge of the Bible…and a knowledge of how to apply that information to their own lives and to the workings of the church.

  • Great Sunday schools produce great, true disciples…persons who are fully committed to following Jesus Christ and who are continually striving to deepen their faith and relationship with him every day of their lives.

  • Great Sunday schools produce great leaders.  Sunday school is one of the best training grounds for persons who go on to become great leaders and workers both in the church and out in the day-to-day world as well.

  • Great Sunday schools produce great teachers.  In Sunday school, persons who feel that they have been called into the teaching ministry of the church can develop their skills as they work with veteran teachers, mentors, and in situations such as team teaching, VBS and short-term studies.  These great teachers give the time and energy necessary to preparing and presenting great lessons…lessons that are interesting, relevant, fun and life changing.

  • Great Sunday schools help persons of all ages come to know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior…regularly inviting unsaved class members to accept our Lord into their hearts.

  • Great Sunday schools are where children learn the basics of the faith.  It’s where they learn to both memorize and understand scripture.  And, as they place the lessons of God’s Word in their minds and in their hearts, they are creating a file of information that they can draw upon later in life as they face temptations, problems and big decisions.

  • Great Sunday schools are where youth find help and support for their walk as Christians…help and support that will aid them as they face temptations and peer pressure out there in the 21st Century world.

  • Great Sunday schools have classes that do great things as people work together to make a difference in their churches, communities and around the world.

  • And, great Sunday schools have great members…persons who love one another and serve as mirrors of God’s love to the world around them…as they take a personal interest in helping to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of others.

 

We hope that you can see why you don’t just need a Sunday school at your church…you need a GREAT Sunday school!  But, as we continue, we would like you to turn to the discussion questions that follow.  These questions are designed to help you access the overall “health” of your Sunday school, establish some goals as you plan for the future, and begin to identify some of the areas where you will need to focus your efforts as you work to become a truly GREAT Sunday school.  If you are reading this article by yourself, please take some time to read and think about each of the questions listed.  You might even write down your thoughts and answers regarding each question.  If you are using this booklet with a group, these questions would be great discussion starters as you begin to look at the current “health” of your Sunday school and begin to plan some of the steps that you might take to make improvements in your overall Christian education program.

 

SESSION ONE QUESTIONS  (to think about and discuss)…

 

  1. What is your church’s average weekly worship service attendance (total for all services)?

  2. What is your average weekly Sunday school attendance (all ages)?

  3. How do your numbers from questions #1 and #2 compare?  In the average church, only about one-third of the persons who attend worship attend Sunday school.  How does your church measure up?

  4. Compared to five years ago, do you have more, less or about the same number of children, youth, young adults and other adults?

  5. What do you think caused the changes that you see in the number of persons of ages who attend your Sunday school (whether good or bad)?

  6. How many new families can you identify that have started to attend your Sunday school during the past two years?

  7. Besides Sunday school, what other Christian education programs or classes do you now have or have had in your church during the past year?

 

What Are Your Concerns About Your Sunday School?

      How would you describe your level of concern about your Sunday school?  Read each statement and then indicate your level of concern on a scale of “1” to 5,”, with “1” indicating “no concern” and “%” indicating that this is a “major concern” for you and your church.

  1. Lack of good Sunday school literature, curriculum materials and resources.                                _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);______ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  2. Lack of money.                                                                                                                             _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);      _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  3. Lack of space and/or Christian education facilities.                                                                       _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);      _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  4. Lack of modern technologies and equipment.                                                                   _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);  _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)                     

  5. Lack of support for Sunday school by the local congregation and local leaders.               _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);  _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern).                    

  6. Lack of concern for Sunday school by clergy and denominational leaders                       _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);  _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  7. Absence of children.                                                                                                                     _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);      _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  8. Absence of youth.                                                                                                                         _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);      _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  9. Absence of young adults and young families.                                                                               _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);      _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  10. Difficulty in finding teachers and workers.                                                                                   _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);      _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  11. Lack of genuine commitment to their work by teachers and other Sunday school workers.                                                                                                                           _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);          _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  12. Lack of spiritual growth in the church and Sunday school.                                                                       _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);      _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  13. Lack of training for Sunday school teachers and workers.                                                                                    _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);    _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

  14. Other.  _______________________________________________.                                                                   _____ 1 (no concern); _____ 2 (only a little concerned); _____ 3 (sort of concerned);    _____ 4 (concerned); _____ 5 (major concern)

download the
full file here

Screen Shot 2021-05-14 at 7.03.21 PM.png

CHAPTER TWO

 

      In the first section we talked about the importance of not just having an ordinary Sunday school at your church…you need a GREAT Sunday school.  And we talked about some of the elements that make a Sunday school truly great.  One of the most important of those elements for a GREAT Sunday school is the Sunday school teachers.

      A recent article on the Internet said that almost half of the persons who attend Sunday school can’t remember what the lesson was about just a few hours after the class ended.  We know you often need to look at Internet statistics with a little skepticism, but the more you thought about it and as I talked with friends, we realized that this statistic might not be that far off.

      Why don’t people remember what their Sunday school lesson was about?  It wasn’t made personal for them…it really didn’t have much of an impact on their life.

      What is the real problem here?  Sadly, it’s the teacher!  Teachers, it is said, have the greatest influence over whether or not a Sunday school class…and ultimately the entire Sunday school…will grow.  And the number one reason that people give when they leave a Sunday school or a Sunday school class – they didn’t like their teacher!

      Several years ago, one of the major Christian education publishing companies conducted a survey to find out how much time Sunday school teachers spend in preparing their weekly lesson.  What did they find?  Does the average Sunday school teacher in America spend 6 to 8 hours preparing their weekly lesson?  No!  Do they spend between 1 and 2 hours?  No…still high!  Do they spend between 30 and 45 minutes?  Nope!  The average teacher in the church today spends only between 10 and 15 minutes preparing their weekly lesson!

Ten to 15 minutes!  Wow!  And remember, that’s the average.  We often meet outstanding Sunday school teachers who spend 6, 8 hours or more preparing their weekly lesson.  So if 10 to 15 minutes is the average…right in the middle…and you have teachers who are spending 6 or 8 hours or more on one side, what’s the other side?  People who are spending little or no time at all in preparing their lesson.  Teachers who are walking into the classroom on Sunday morning without even opening their teacher’s book or the Bible during the week before.  And, we ask you, how can a teacher who hasn’t done any preparation…or even someone who has only spent 10 or 15 minutes in preparation…be expected to present a lesson that will be interesting, relevant or enjoyable…a lesson that will be truly life changing…a lesson that will affect their student’s lives, be remembered and lived out during the week ahead?

      If you are to have a great Sunday school, you need great teachers!  What does a great teacher do?

Great teachers make each of their lessons interesting, relevant and fun!

They use modern teaching methods and modern technologies lie computers, video, smartphones and more as they plan and as they present their lessons.

They use “active-discovery learning”…learning by doing…to involve the students in the learning process.

They know how persons of different ages learn and how to use that information to make their lessons interesting, relevant and personal for each of their students.

They use “active application” to make sure that the students remember what the lesson was about and to give students ideas for things that they can do to put the lesson of the classroom into practice out in the day-too-day world during the week ahead.

  • Great teachers make the preparation and presentation of each lesson a priority in their lives.

  • Great teachers incorporate fellowship and outside social interaction between their students as a part of the classroom experience.

  • Great teachers never stop learning or trying to be even better and more effective in their work for the Lord.

  • They are concerned about absentees and the real-world needs, problems and concerns that their students face.

  • They have a genuine desire to see unsaved students come to know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, and regularly present opportunities for all persons to accept Christ and invite him into their hearts.

  • These great teachers work to involve their students in service to both God and other people.

  • They invite new people to come to their class and then make sure that new members and visitors are made welcome and quickly assimilated into the class activities.

  • And, they have a genuine desire to see real change and spiritual growth take place in the lives of each of their students.

There are great joys involved with teaching.  What joy a teacher feels as they lead a student to accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  You will also get a feeling of great joy and accomplishment as you see your students learning about the Bible and how to apply its messages to their lives.  And, just knowing that you are doing God’s will as you work and teach in the church and Sunday school should also give you great joy in your life.

            But teaching in the church and Sunday school is also a great responsibility!  In the Bible…in James chapter 3, verse 1…the writer says: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

            What is James saying?  He is reminding teachers of the great responsibility involved in the job.  Whether they realize it or not, teachers in the church and Sunday school have a great influence on the lives of their students…today and for years to come.  In fact, their teaching could affect their students even for eternity…helping to determine if those students will spend eternity in heaven or in hell.  When you stop to think about that, you realize that…indeed…teaching in the church and Sunday school is a tremendous responsibility.

            But church leaders must realize that they share a big part of the responsibility, too.  It all starts with how you recruit and train your teachers.

            In far too many churches, the recruitment process begins something like this:  It’s Sunday morning after the worship service when the Director of Christian Education or the head of the Education Committee corners the prospect in the back of the church.  “Oh, that poor junior high class.  We just can’t find a teacher for those kids.  Won’t you please help us out?  You’re our last hope!”  Reluctantly, the prospect says, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.”  “Great,” says the D.C.E., “Here’s the teacher’s guide.  See you next week.”

            What’s wrong with that whole scene?  First of all, what are they looking for?  Do they really want a person who is going to be a great and effective teacher…someone who has been called by God to be a teacher…or do they just want a warm body?  In far too many cases churches are just looking for someone who is breathing to fill the position. 

            Is that all should be looking for…someone to simply fill a position…a warm body?  No!  Your church needs to be selective about the teachers that you recruit.  You need people who are first and foremost Christian.  People who love the Lord.  People who are living a good, exemplary Christian life.  And people who will love the students that you are asking them to teach.  It’s important that these people feel that they are being called by God to serve as a teacher in the church and Sunday school…and that they are willing to give the time and energy necessary to prepare and present a great lesson each week.

            Recruiting the right type of person is just the start.  You also need to provide these prospects with the proper training.  Very few church members have actual training from a Bible college or from any other institution to be a teacher.  In most cases, people tend to teach as they were taught.  But educational experts warn that if it has been longer than just 10 years since you were in that formal education situation, the way that you learned…the way that you were taught…is probably not the best and most effective way for you to be teaching today..

            In addition to providing your teachers with training, you also need to think about things that you might do to help your teachers be their very best.  One thing that we urge you to do is hold regular teachers’ meetings…meetings where your teachers can learn, share ideas and concerns, and work to inspire each other in their work for the Lord.

            To make sure that their teachers realize the importance of the task to which they have been called and to make sure that prospective teachers understand what is and will be expected of them, many churches use a “Teacher’s Covenant.”  A “Teacher’s Covenant” is a ‘contract’ that the teacher is asked to make with the church and with God.  A sample “Teacher’s Covenant” might ask the teacher to make the following commitments…

  • I will live what I teach.

  • I will be faithful in attendance (even when I am not teaching).

  • I desire to see all embers won to Christ.

  • I will carefully prepare all lessons.

  • I will attend worship.

  • I will teach according to the doctrine of my church.

  • I will be concerned about absentees.

  • I will attend teachers’ meetings and training.

  • I will serve according to the term of service to which I have been called.

  • I will honor the guidance, leadership and decisions of my church and its leaders.

            And those are just a few of the commitments that teachers might be asked to make.

            We hope that you can see that having great teachers is fundamental to having a great Sunday school, and we are sure that you will agree that this must be one of your biggest concerns.  But many church leaders think that they already have great teachers.  And many of these same church leaders will say, “If we try to make our teachers sign a teaching covenant or make them attend training and things like that, they’ll just quit.”  Well, if those teachers have really been called by God to be a teacher in the church and they really have a desire to do their very best for our Lord, then they will want to do all that they can to be their very best.  Remember, you don’t just need a warm body; you need teachers who are truly committed to doing their very best…for their students and for the Lord.

            Recruiting and training great teachers is important.  But it’s also important to provide each of your teachers with ongoing, in-service type training and support.  And, be sure that you say “thank you” to your teachers and other workers on a regular basis.

            As we hope that you can see, having great Sunday school teachers is an absolute necessity if you are going to have a great Sunday school.  But there are other things that you will also need to do, and we’ll be talking about some of those additional concerns in our next chapter.  But for now, we hope that you will turn to the discussion questions that follow.  Please take a few minutes to think about each question and then use them to begin thinking about the problems that now exist and some possible solutions.

 

SESSION TWO QUESTIONS (to think about and discuss)

 

  1.  Make a list of all of the classes that you currently have in your Sunday school.  With each, list the following information:

  • Average number of students who attend each week.

  • The name of the teacher or teachers and helpers.

  • The ages of the students involved in the class.

  • The curriculum or source of lesson studies.

  • Does each class have a plan for outside fellowship?

  • Does each class have a service or mission project that they support?

  • How does the attendance in each class compare to their attendance five years ago?

  • What do you think are some of the reasons for these changes over the past five years?

  1. Do you have teachers in your Sunday school who have served for 10, 25 or 50 years or more?  If you do, what are you doing to help recognize this special service?

  2. Do you hold regular teachers’ meetings?

  3. When was the last time that you held a training event or workshop for your teachers?

  4. Do all of your teachers have access to modern technology equipment that they can use?

  5. It’s important for all of your teachers to never stop learning or trying to be even better and more effective in their work.  Do you require your teachers to attend training, read training books or in some other way work to make improvements in their teaching efforts each year?

  6. Have you ever held one of the Pennsylvania State Sunday School Association’s “Local Workshop Training Events” at your church?  Go to the P.S.S.S.A. website (to get information about the workshops that are available and how you can host one of these training events in your church.

  7. Have any of the teachers or leaders from your church ever attended the PA State Sunday School Convention?  For more information, go to the P.S.S.S.A. website.

  8. How do you find and recruit new teachers for your Sunday school?

  9. How do you train new teachers for your Sunday school?

  10. Do you offer continuing training, support and resources for your teachers?

  11. If a teacher has a problem or concern, where or to whom can they turn for help?

  12. Do all of the teachers and other workers in your children’s and youth departments have proper child safety training and clearances?

  13. We mentioned James 3:1 to show the tremendous responsibility involved in being a teacher in the church.  What does this verse mean to you?  What does this mean to a teacher in the church or Sunday school?

  14. What other scripture verses or passages in the Bible talk about the importance of teaching and Christian education?

 

Traits of a Growing Sunday School

            There are many great, growing Sunday schools across the nation.  Here are a few of the characteristics that they share…

  1. They place high emphasis on spiritual commitment and growth.  Most are a part of churches that are very evangelical and place an emphasis on outreach, witnessing and discipleship.

  2. The Bible is central to their teaching efforts.  Realizing the value of the Bible as the Christian’s “handbook for life” is essential for both the teachers and the members of every Sunday school class.

  3. Young families are a key to their growth.  Young families have the children who should be in Sunday school to learn about Jesus Christ, the Bible and the basics of morality and the Christian faith.

  4. They place a great emphasis on children’s ministry.  Biblical teaching and application is the foundation of making life decisions.  Children should be regularly presented with the plan of salvation and invited to accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.

  5. They create new Sunday school classes.  They know that it is hard to get new people into existing classes.  Therefore, if it is to grow, the Sunday school needs to create new classes.

  6. They provide fellowship and service opportunities.  Successful schools provide a variety of opportunities for fellowship and service for classes, families and the entire Sunday school on a regular basis throughout the year.

CHAPTER THREE

 

In the first chapter we talked about what it means to have a GREAT Sunday school and why your church needs just such a program.  In the second chapter we looked at the importance of having great teachers.  And, in this third chapter we are going to look at some of the other concerns that churches have as they work toward making their Sunday schools even better and more effective.

Several years ago a survey was conducted among churches in Pennsylvania, asking them about their concerns related to their Sunday schools.  Even though the survey was rather limited and not very scientific, it showed that many small and medium sized churches have a similar problem…the absence of children, youth and young adults from their churches and Sunday schools.  And if you are going to have a GREAT Sunday school, you will need to do all that you can to get, keep and teach the persons in these very important age groups.

            This becomes even more concerning when you consider the statistic from Barna Research that tells us that over 85% of today’s adult Christians became Christian by age 13.  Turning that around, you can see the concern: If we don’t reach kids for Christ by age 13, the odds of them every becoming Christian go way down.

            But what can you do?  There are so many things today that take children, youth and young adults away from the church on Sunday mornings…sports practices and games, part-time and full-time jobs, shopping, family outings and so many more.  As you look at the list of things that kids and young families could be doing on Sunday morning, we need to ask why church and Sunday school seems to have gone to the bottom of the list of priorities for so many of these people.  And yes, it is a matter of priorities!  So, if we are to get these persons back in Sunday school, they must see it as a priority in their lives…they must want to come to Sunday school…they need to see it as important, relevant and enjoyable.

            But how can you get parents to make worship and Sunday school a priority?  Well, first you need to show parents the importance of Sunday school.  It’s important that children…from an early age…attend Sunday school.  They need to be learning the great messages that are in God’s Word.  And they need to put these lessons into their hearts and minds so that they can draw up on that information and knowledge as they face temptations, problems and decisions later in life.

            Parents need to be reminded of the importance of their children, youth and even themselves having good, close Christian friends.  And that brings up another good point: When young families shop around for a church, we are told they look more at what the church offers for their children than what is offered for themselves.  But you can’t just forget about the parents either.  If you are going to get entire young families involved in your Sunday school and church, you must have great classes, programs and activities for all persons of all ages.  But what can you do to get the parents and their children?

            First, let’s think about the parents, because, let’s face it…if the parents aren’t interested and don’t come to your church and Sunday school, you probably won’t get the kids either.  In most cases, if the parents aren’t interested enough to get their kids up, get them ready and take them to the church, the children won’t be there.  So, if you are going to get the kids, you need to work to get the parents, too.

            And this may not be a very easy thing to do.  Many young adults have had bad church experiences in the past – they were forced to go to church when they didn’t want to, they were bored by bad teachers, they found the worship services irrelevant and more.  Many of these young adults have spiritual needs and desires, but they have chosen to look for answers outside of the organized church.  If you are to reach these families and get them back in the church, it is going to take some very special efforts, beginning with your church members of similar age, interest and family situation who are willing to reach out to these families, build friendships with them and work with things like “side door evangelism” and slowly work to get them back into the church.

            When we talk about “side door evangelism,” what am I talking about?  Rather than directly inviting an individual or family to come to your Sunday school or a worship service, “side door evangelism” involves inviting them to a special service or event…maybe even a social or family fun event…as a way of introducing them to your church and some of your friends and other members.

            These types of events might include things like a special service at Christmas or Easter, a contemporary Christian music concert, a family or children’s program like a program featuring a Christian comedian or magician, or a family fellowship event like a family movie night or game night at your church.  By inviting new people to come with you to such an event or activity, they will hopefully have an enjoyable time and will have a desire to get more involved with the group and with your church and Sunday school.

            Another very important activity for getting young adults and families involved in your church is a contemporary worship service.  Contemporary services can be a very powerful tool for getting young families through the doors and into your church.  But to be successful and to be truly meaningful and worshipful, you need to work with your pastor or youth pastor to make sure that these services are inspirational, spiritual and bring praise to Jesus Christ.

            When trying to attract young families to your church you need to be sure that you are offering great programs and activities for the parents, but it’s also important to remember that when parents are looking for a church, they are always more interested in what the church offers for their children than what is offered for themselves.  With that thought in mind, let’s ask the question, “What do you…or should you be…offering for the children?”

            In most cases, the answer to this question will involve more than just what you offer within and through your Sunday school.  Hopefully what we talked about in chapter two, regarding the teaching of children and youth in your Sunday school, will mean that you are working to make sure that each of your teachers in your children’s and youth departments are doing their very best as they prepare and present each of their lessons.  Remember…

  • Great teachers continually strive to deepen their personal relationship with Jesus Christ and doing His will.

  • Great teachers strive to learn more about the Bible and its application to their life or the lives of the students.

  • Great teachers PRAY…a lot.

  • Great teachers show greater concern and love for their students and their individual needs.

  • Great teachers devote more time, thought, study and energy in preparing each week’s Sunday school lesson.

  • Great teachers keep the Bible at the center of every lesson that they prepare and present.

  • Great teachers make sure that every lesson that they prepare and present is interesting and relevant to the needs of their students.

  • And, great teachers never stop learning or trying to be an even better and more effective teacher as they work for their students and for their Lord.

In addition, great Sunday school teachers understand that children learn in a variety of ways and strive to incorporate a variety of teaching methods into each of their lessons.  These same teachers make use of the latest technologies, including computers, video projectors, smartphones and more.  And they use class and family fellowship and social activities to build friendships within the class.  These and other activities, led by great Sunday school teachers, will help to keep the kids involved.  But what can you do to get them there in the first place?  That’s going to involve some great public relations, promotion, witnessing and invitation work.

            As we  begin to think about that, we must keep in mind that there are two different groups of people that you will want to reach…the kids, their parents and others who are now in your church plus the children, young families and others out in your community.

            As we mentioned back in chapter one, in the average church only about one-third…or less…of the people who attend worship also attend Sunday school.  That means that in the average church there is a sizable pool of people…including children…who are not attending Sunday school.  Each of these persons should be seen as a possible new member for your Sunday school.  And as such, each of these persons should be targeted with special, personal invitations to come to Sunday school.

            What might you do to better promote your Sunday school and Sunday school attendance within your church?

  • Ask your pastor to talk about the importance of the Bible, Bible study and Sunday school from the pulpit.

  • Include articles about Sunday school with your weekly worship folders and bulletins.

  • Include a Sunday school page in your monthly church newsletter.

  • Make sure that information about your Sunday school and a Sunday school welcome are prominently displayed on your church website.

  • Use special Sunday school promotional materials like the Pennsylvania State Sunday School Association’s “I Love Sunday School” promotional program.  You’ll find information about that program on our website.

  • Hold a Sunday school open house after your worship service on some Sunday morning.

  • Hold a community children’s Sunday school fair or block party.

  • Display posters about the importance of Sunday school throughout your church and community.

  • Celebrate the start of each new Sunday school year by “Celebrating September as Sunday School Month.”  Materials to help you with this annual Sunday school emphasis are available from the Sunday School Association.

You’ll find more information about these suggestions and others included with the discussion notes at the end of this chapter.

      Some time ago we saw a list of reasons why people don’t attend Sunday school and one of the reasons on that list caught my eye.  Some people actually said that they don’t attend Sunday school because they were never invited.  We think that everyone should know that they are always welcome in Sunday school, but some folks are shy about just showing up…they are afraid they won’t fit in or they won’t know what to do.  They want to be invited to attend and they would like to go with a friend or someone who can show them what to do, where to go and so on.  And who is to be doing this inviting?  Everyone who now attends Sunday school!  Extending an invitation to others to come to Sunday school is not just the pastor’s job or the Sunday school superintendent’s job or even the teacher’s job…it’s every member’s responsibility.

      Encourage your Sunday school members to seek out people in the worship service that they know who do not attend Sunday school and give them a personal invitation to come.  Remind your members to invite their friends, neighbors and others to attend, too. 

      Your Sunday school members should also be encouraged to use their social media contacts to tell others why they love Sunday school and to share an invitation with their online contacts.  You might also plan special Sunday school fellowship events such as a family game night, an outdoor Sunday school picnic or a family movie night…events to which Sunday school members can invite their friends.

      And there is one more area where you may need to do some additional work: it relates to possible changes that you may need to make in your overall Sunday school program.  Questions that you might consider here include:

  • Do you have a Sunday school class for all persons of all ages who might attend?

  • Are the members of your current classes open to welcoming new members?

  • Should you consider creating new Sunday school classes?

  • Do you have modern technology equipment like flat screen TVs, video projectors, the Internet and other resources available for your teachers to use in their classes?

  • Do each of your classes have fellowship and social activities to help build closer relationships between members?

  • Do your Sunday school and individual classes have mission projects or other activities where they can involve members in service to both God and other people?

  • And what about the curriculum materials that your classes are using?  Are these materials Bible centered?  Are the lessons relevant to the lives and needs of class members?  Are they appropriate for the age of students involved?  And are they interesting and fun?

And there is one more very important thing that you need to include as an element in your planning for Sunday school growth and renewal…and that is PRAYER!  There is power in prayer, and everything that you do as you look for guidance in planning ways to make your Sunday school better and more effective should be totally wrapped in prayer.  As your teachers work to plan each of their lessons, they need to pray!  And as they present those lessons…opening and closing each lesson…they need to pray.  In other words, if you want to have a great Sunday school, you need to get your congregation involved in a great program of prayer…praying for every aspect of your Sunday school, your teachers and leaders, the children, youth and adults who attend, those of your church and community who do not now attend Sunday school, and so much more.  As we said, there is power in prayer!  Harness that power!  Pray…for your Sunday school!

            As we come near to the end of this chapter, we would like you to continue to think about your Sunday school.  Is it truly as effective as it could be?  Are all of the persons who attend worship attending Sunday school?  Are all of your teachers giving the time and energy necessary to plan and present great lessons that are relevant, interesting and enjoyable?  And is your Sunday school producing true disciples…persons of all ages who are learning about the Bible and how to apply its messages to their lives and the life of the church?  If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your Sunday school needs to be even better and more effective in your work for the Lord.  These are areas where you have room for improvement if you are to truly have a great Sunday school!  Why is it important for your church to have a great Sunday school?  Because great Sunday schools change lives.

            But before we close, may we share one final thought with you?  Over one hundred years ago, the great Pennsylvanian John Wanamaker owned the largest department store in Philadelphia and he also served as Postmaster General of the United States in Washington, D.C.  But, every weekend Mr. Wanamaker took the train from Washington back to Philadelphia so that he could serve as Sunday school superintendent and men’s Bible class teacher in a Sunday school that had over four thousand members.

            Someone once asked Mr. Wanamaker how he had time to run such a large Sunday school with all of his other responsibilities.  Instantly he replied, “Why, Sunday school is my business!  All other things are just things.  Forty-five years ago I decided that God’s promise was sure: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

            And we believe that this is still true today.  If you seek to learn more about God, His Word and His will for you and your life, he will continue to bless you…as an individual and as a church…in ways that you can’t even imagine.  As it says in First Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 9…”No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”  Show your love for God and learn more about his will for your life and your church by not just having a Sunday school…remember, you need a GREAT Sunday school.  Thank you.

 

SESSION THREE QUESTIONS (to think about and discuss)

  1. It was noted that 85% of today’s adult Christians became Christian by age 13.  What does this statistic mean to you?  Why is it important to reach children by age 13?  Is your Sunday school really placing an emphasis on reaching children for Christ?

  2. How has the number of children, youth and young adults who attend your church and Sunday school changed over the past 5 or 10 years?

  3. Why do you think many children are not attending worship and Sunday school today?

  4. Do you agree that, to a large degree, parents are responsible for the absence of children from our churches?

  5. Why don’t parents and young adults attend church and Sunday school?

  6. Why is it important for children to be in Sunday school?

  7. What are the things that are keeping children away from church?

  8. What could you and your church do to get more young families and their children to attend your church and Sunday school?

  9. We talked about introducing young families to your church through “side door activities” (social events, concerts, special services, special children’s services, family movie nights, etc.)  Are there any of these things that you are now doing?  What more could you do?  How can you encourage your current members to invite their friends and others to these activities?

  10. Do you have a contemporary worship service?  If so, how are you using it to get new young adults and their families involved?  If not, what might you do to get such a service started at your church?

  11. Remember, in the average church only about one-third of the people who attend worship attend Sunday school.  What could you do to try to get those persons who do not now attend Sunday school interested in attending?

  12. What are some of the things that you might do to promote your Sunday school and extend a Sunday school invitation within your church?  Within your community?  (For more ideas, see the “Additional Ideas For Promoting Your Events & Activities” sheet on the next page.

  13. How can you get your members to use their social media contacts to tell others about Sunday school and to extend an invitation for others to attend?

  14. Why do you attend Sunday school?  Have you told anyone why you love Sunday school recently?

 

 

ADDITIONAL IDEAS FOR PROMOTING YOUR

EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

In Your Church…

  • Posters.  (Print them yourself using your computer, have a printing company prepare and print them or have a poster contest involving your children, youth or other members and then post them throughout your church to promote your upcoming event.)

  • Flyers.  (Create special flyer sheets with information about your upcoming event.)

  • Bulletin Inserts.  (Create special sheets to include with your weekly worship folders.)

  • Bulletin Boards.  (Create a colorful layout with bright lettering and lots of photos and graphics on bulletin boards throughout your church.

  • Scrolling Announcements.  (Does your church have announcements scrolling on PowerPoint before the start of your worship service?  If so, make sure you have an eye-catching announcement included in the presentation.)

  • Church Events Listing.  (Make sure you have a brief but catchy announcement as a part of your church’s weekly listing of announcements.  Make sure the announcement includes all of the “who, what, where, when and why” information that your church members will need to be informed about the event.)

  • Live Announcements.  (Does the pastor or someone else make live announcements before or during the worship service and other services of your church each week?  If so, make sure that he or she has a brief but informative announcement that will get the attention and interest of your members.)

  • E-mail.  (Does your church have an E-mail list of members?  If so, ask the church secretary or whoever is in charge of the list for permission to send several E-mails to the persons on the list.  Send the first E-mail at least a month before the event to get on everyone’s calendar.  Then follow that announcement up with weekly reminders and invitations.)

  • Text Messages.  (Does your church have a text message list of members?  If so, ask to use that list in the same way as the E-mail list mentioned above.  Note:  If you need to get out information to the members of your church in a hurry, text messages are actually the fastest way to do it.)

  • Phone.  (Do you have a list of church members’ phone numbers, maybe from your church directory?  If so, get several people from your group involved in calling everyone on the list to remind them about the event and to give them a special invitation to attend.)

  • Mailing.  (Letters, postcards and other special mailings are still a great way to get out your information about the events that you are planning.  When doing a mailing, make sure that the letter, flyer or other information enclosed is colorful and eye-catching so that it will be read and not just end up in the garbage.

  • Promo Events.  (Will you be planning a very special event or series of events, such as a series of special services or a community concert event?  If so, you might plan one or more “promo events” before the big event.  You might have a church dinner, a special “preview service,” community gathering or other event to get people excited about the big event to come.)

  • CD’s & DVD’s.  (This is a great way to publicize a special event such as a concert or an appearance of a special guest speaker.  Obtain video or audio of the group or speaker and include it with information about your local event in a short message that you place on either audio CD’s or video DVD’s.  Distribute the discs to the members of your church and urge them to watch or listen to the message enclosed and then pass the CD or DVD along to a friend.)

  • Puppets.  (Do you have a special event coming up for the kids of your church?  Puppets are a great way to make a special announcement to the children.  Have one or more puppets interact with the pastor or other person as a part of the regular announcements to give emphasis to the event.  And remember, even adults find puppets fascinating.)

  • Skits.  (Here’s another idea for a special way to make your announcement in a very special, memorable way – make it through a skit.  The skit might be in the form of a monologue, a dialogue or involve even more people.  Work with a creative person from your church to create and cast the script.)

  • Promotional Items.  (Promotional items are objects that also include printed information about an event or activity.  Promotional items include things like T-shirts, pens, bottles of water, candy bars, beach balls and many, many more.  You can even create many of these items yourself.  For example, use your computer and church copy machine to create and print “labels” that you can place over bottles of water or candy bars.  Other items like pens and T-shirts would need to be produced for you by a commercial company.  Distribute these items to the members of your church as a reminder of your special upcoming event. 

  • Church Website.  (Don’t forget to include information about your future events on your church website.  Make sure complete information about the activity is there.  People often go to such websites for last minute information about the time, location and other details related to an event.)

  • Personal Contacts.  (There are a lot of ways to let the people of your church know about your upcoming events.  But the best thing to do is to make personal contacts.  Have the members of your group talk FACE-TO-FACE with the members of your church.  Have your members give each contact a flyer or other information sheet about the event and urge them to extend a friendly invitation.  Make sure that all potential participants from your church are invited.  And don’t forget about absentees and new attendees.)

 

In Your Community…

  • Posters

  • T-Shirts

  • News Releases

  • Newspaper Ads

  • Radio Public Service Announcements

  • TV Public Service Announcements

  • Cable TV Public Service Announcements

  • Placemats (distributed to local restaurants)

  • Your Church Website

  • Members telling their friends, neighbors and others

  • Members telling others through their social media contacts

  • Visitation

  • “Door Knockers” hung on the home doors in your community

  • Labeled G-Away Items (candy bars, water bottles, etc.)

  • Brochures

  • Flyer Sheets

  • “QR Codes” (printed on items, posters, etc.)

  • Free CD’s & DVD’s

  • Parade Give-Away Items & Displays (groups & floats)

  • Displays & Booths (at carnivals & other events)

  • Community & Targeted Mailings

  • Phone

  • e-mail

  • Text Messages (to individuals, through targeted text lists and group texting)

  • Community Promotional Events (dinners, rallies, etc.)

  • Distribution of Promotional Items

  • Billboards

  • Community websites

  • Street Banners

  • Information through Community Visitors Centers

  • “Business Card’ distribution by members.  (Have your event information printed on business cards and then give each of your members a supply for them to give to their friends, leave in public areas, etc.)

  • Calendars & Community Calendars

  • Bookmarks

  • Your Church Signboard

  • Personal Contacts by your members to their friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SPIRITUAL

GROWTH AND RENEWAL

 

 

Like many Christians, I find the Book of Revelation challenging to read and understand, But one section of the book that I find particularly interesting is the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, in chapters 2 and 3.  These messages were not just for those selected seven churches, but they also contain important messages for us and our churches today.  The words of those two chapters carry inspiration, challenge, praise and condemnation.  But the letter that I find most troubling is the message to the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3: 14-22).  The basic message of that letter is conveyed in verses 15 and 16: “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold.  I wish you were one or the other!  But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

            As I read the words of the different messages to these seven churches, I have to wonder what God sees when he looks at our churches and Sunday schools today.  Would he praise us for our work?  Would he condemn us for our failures?  Or, like the church at Laodicea, would he see us as neither hot nor cold…what we might today call a “wishy-washy” church or Sunday school?

            Some of the biggest questions that we hear at the Pennsylvania State Sunday School Association relate to Sunday school and church growth and renewal.  Attendance is down.  It seems to get harder and harder to find teachers and leaders.  And the general interest in programs like Sunday school seems to be at an all-time low.

            Couple these questions with statistics that tell us that only about 10% of all churches and Sunday schools grew in attendance last year and that only about 2% of all Christians are actively involved in witnessing and inviting others to their church and Sunday school, and you start to get an even clearer picture of the problem.

            There are no easy answers or magical solutions to the problems involved in bringing about Sunday school and church growth and renewal, but one of the things that I have observed over the years is that many of the problems that we have in our churches and Sunday schools are not so much problems in themselves as they are an indication of even deeper problems.  And – I believe – many of these deeper problems are of a spiritual nature.

            I believe that the first and most important step involved in church and Sunday school growth must be spiritual renewal and growth!  The Book of Acts tells us of the activities of the Early Church and how they saw phenomenal growth as the word of God was proclaimed and as the believers received the Holy Spirit.  Acts 9:31, for example, says, “The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it grew in strength and numbers.  The believers were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.”

            As we look at our churches and Sunday schools today, can we say that our members are “walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit?”  Or, would we have to admit that many of our members are quite “wishy-washy” in their faith – neither hot nor cold?

            Certainly God wants every Christian to be on fire for Him.  He wants to be the number one love of each of our lives and He wants us to strive to live each and every day for Him.

            A number of years ago I heard author and educator Tony Campolo use an illustration that supposedly had its origins with the great philosophers of Greece or Rome.  In the illustration Tony said: “Make a list of the 100 most important things in your life.  Then study the list carefully and cross off the one thing that is of least importance, leaving you with a list of the 99 most important things in your life.  Again, study the list and cross out the one thing that is of least importance.  Continue to do this as you whittle the list down and whittle it down until you have just one thing remaining – THE most important thing in your life.”  Do you know what that one remaining thing is?  That, in fact, is your ‘god!”  But, the question is, is it a capital “G” God – Jesus Christ – or a small “g” god, meaning something like your home, your car, your family, money, power or fame?

            For those of us who call ourselves Christians, can the number one priority in each of our lives by anything other than Jesus Christ?  In Mark 12, Jesus was asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28b) Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” (Mark 12:29 & 30)

            And, when Jesus Christ is truly the top priority in a person’s life, won’t their other priorities be different, too?  Won’t they have a greater desire to read the Bible, to find out all that they possibly can about this one who is the number one love of their life?  Won’t they want to pray more, to talk with the one who should be their closest friend?  Won’t they want to talk with other Christians about spiritual matters?  Won’t they have a greater desire to be in worship, Sunday school and Bible study?  Won’t they want to tell others about Jesus Christ – their best friend?  And, won’t they have a desire to invite others to come to their church and Sunday school?

            But, what happens when Jesus Christ is not the top priority in a person’s life?  Those things that are of a higher priority will push Jesus and the things related to doing His will to the side and out of the way.  When that happens, will they have much of a desire to read the Bible, to pray, to be in Sunday school and church, and to witness and invite their friends?  Probably not!

            As I mentioned earlier, there are no easy fixes or magical answers to bringing about Sunday school and church growth and renewal.  If you are to see increased attendance and a renewed spirit within your church and Sunday school, it will involve a lot of time, hard work, prayer and much more.  But -again – I believe that the first step in the process must be centered on the spiritual renewal and recommitment of each of your members to Jesus Christ and to doing His will.

            But what can we do to help bring about this spiritual growth?  Messages from the pastor, Sunday school teachers and through every available media within the church must call members to spiritual renewal, revival and accountability.  We must encourage everyone to read their Bibles even more, to pray more, to talk with other Christians and to hold each other spiritually accountable.  We need to focus on Jesus Christ and doing his will throughout each day by reading Christian books and magazines, and by listening to Christian music, radio and TV.  We should make every effort to attend Sunday school, worship and the other activities of our church more often.  And, we should all get actively involved in sharing our love for Jesus Christ, our church and our Sunday school with others through witnessing and invitation.

            An important reminder: We would all like to see our Sunday schools and churches grow, but don’t get caught up in thinking that this only includes increases in attendance numbers, offerings and membership.  Remember, the more important growth that we should all strive for will involve things like increased knowledge of God’s Word, deeper spiritual commitment, greater faith and greater love for others.

            Growth and renewal in any church or Sunday school will not happen overnight.  It will be more of a process involving a number of steps, but – again – I believe that the most important first step in the process must be one of a spiritual nature – the spiritual growth and recommitment of each of your members.

            In Second Peter, chapter one, Peter talks about this whole spiritual growth process.  He says: “So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises (from God’s Word) to your life.  Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence.  A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better.  Knowing God leads to self-control.  Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness.  Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone.  The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 1:5-8)

            I often ask people why Sunday school is important to them.  To me, it is important because of its basic purpose – Christian education or studying the Bible.  But why is the Bible important?  Because of the central character of the book – Jesus Christ!  And, why is Jesus important?  Because, as He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”  In other words, Jesus is the way – the only way!

            Read the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, and then take a good hard look at your Sunday school and church.  Which of the seven church messages do you think God would send to you?  Are you good and growing?  Are you spiritually dead?  Or, like so many churches, are you “lukewarm,” “neither hot nor cold?”  If you are, remember that God is calling you to be on fire for Him and His Word.  He is calling you to action!  And, where must that action start?  By focusing on the spiritual growth and renewal of each and every member of your church and Sunday school.  With God’s help and guidance, we can see spiritual growth and we can see growth and renewal in each of our churches and Sunday schools…to His glory!

 

What Can Individual Members Do If They Are Concerned About Their Sunday School?

  1. Let your feelings about Sunday school be known.

  2. Talk to others – your friends, family, Sunday school class members and the members of your church.

  3. Talk to your pastor and other Sunday school and church leaders.

  4. Set an example with your attendance at Sunday school each week.

  5. PRAY for your Sunday school, the teachers and leaders, the members, etc.

  6. Try to get your Sunday school class involved in a specific program of growth.  Set a goal and then urge all members to get involved by inviting their friends, neighbors, etc. to come with them to Sunday school.

  7. Buy or create Sunday school promotional items.  Such items are available from the “Sunday School Stuff Store” on the Pennsylvania State Sunday School Association’s website (www.SundaySchoolHelp.org).

  8. Urge your church to get involved with the P.S.S.S.A.’s annual “Celebrate September as Sunday School Month” promotional campaign.  For more information, visit the P.S.S.S.A.’s website (www.SundaySchoolHelp.org).

  9. Talk with your neighbors and co-workers about the importance of Sunday school.  Especially remind the parents of children about the importance of getting their children into Sunday school so that they can learn all of the important lessons that are taught there.

  10. Urge your church and Sunday school leaders to consider hosting one of the Pennsylvania State Sunday School Association’s “local training workshops.”  The P.S.S.S.A. currently offers many different training workshops that can be presented right in local host churches.  For more information, visit the P.S.S.S.A.’s website (www.SundaySchoolHelp.org).

  11. Urge your church and Sunday school leaders to consider starting a new Sunday school class.  It’s often hard to get new people involved with existing classes, but it might be possible to involve new folks in a new class of their own.  To help get the class going, you might even volunteer to help as needed.

  12. Sunday school isn’t the only form of Christian education available today through churches.  There are also other Bible study groups, mid-week Bible study programs, home and backyard groups, VBS, and others.  Talk to your church and Sunday school leaders and urge them to consider starting even more of these special groups as you work to get every person from your church and new persons from your community involved.

  13. Obtain or create your own posters that talk about the importance of Sunday school.  Distribute the posters to businesses and other locations within your community where they will be seen.  You might also volunteer to distribute posters that your church has created to promote special church or Sunday school events.  A good source for general posters that promote Sunday school is the P.S.S.S.S.A.  Visit our “Sunday School Stuff Store” on our website for more information.

  14. Urge the teachers of your children and youth Sunday school classes to get the kids of your church involved with the Pennsylvania State Sunday School Association’s annual “Youth Poster & T-Shirt Contest.”  The contest is open to all Sunday school children and youth, ages t to 19.  In the contest, the kids can create a traditional poster, a computer generated mini-poster or a T-shirt on the contest’s annual theme.  Entries are judged in four different age groups.  Winners from local church contests can be submitted to the P.S.S.S.A.’s statewide final.  For complete information about the contest rules and information about the current contest theme, contact the State Sunday School office in Harrisburg.

  15. Urge your church leaders to sponsor a church-wide writing or essay contest on the importance of Sunday school or other topic related to your church growth effort.

  16. Urge your church leaders to sponsor a bumper sticker creation contest.  This type of contest is especially appealing to youth and young adults.

  17. Urge the teachers of the older adult classes of your Sunday school to get their students involved by writing articles about their memories related to Sunday school when they were children or when they were raising a young family.  Share the articles with others in your church and publish some of them in your church newsletter or put them on your church website.

  18. Urge the youth leaders of your church to get the kids involved in a Bible quizzing program.  You might hold your own quizzing contests within your church’ or you might get a team to compete against other quizzing teams in your area.

  19. Be sure that announcements related to the importance of Sunday school and the special events and activities that  your Sunday school is planning are promoted through your church newsletter, your weekly bulletins, on your website, etc.

  20. Write an article or urge someone else to write an article about the importance of Sunday school and then ask the editor of your church newsletter to include the article in an upcoming issue.

  21. Be sure to include information about your church, Sunday school and all of your special events and programs in your own personal E-mails and as a part of your social media contacts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  You might also include a link to other websites, such as the PA State Sunday School Association website (www.SundaySchoolHelp.org).

  22. Does your church have a Facebook page?  Do you have a church website?  If not offer to help create one of these accounts for your church.  If you don’t have the knowledge necessary to create a website or social media site, find someone in your church to help with the project. (Older youth and young adults are often very knowledgeable in this area.)

  23. Look for opportunities to include a personal witness or invitation as a part of your normal conversations.

  24. Would you be interested in leading or helping with a Bible study group?  If you are interested, let your pastor and other leaders of your church know.  Your help is needed!

  25. Read and study the Bible on your own.  It is important to be a part of Sunday school and the other Bible study groups at your church, but it is also important to have your own program of Bible reading, study and prayer for yourself and your family.

  26. Even if you are not a Sunday school teacher, it is important for you to be prepared for each week’s lesson.  Be sure to read the lesson’s suggested scripture and the student curriculum material.  Teachers appreciate having students who come to class prepared for the study.

  27. Urge the teachers and leaders of your church to attend teacher training workshops and conventions that are held in your area, such as the annual Pennsylvania State Sunday School Convention that is held each fall.  The P.S.S.S.A. also offers many different teacher training workshops that can be presented right through local host churches such as yours.

  28. Work through proper channels!  We have given you many different ideas for things that you – as an individual – can do to help bring about church and Sunday school growth, but don’t try to bypass the proper authorities and leaders of your church.  If you have a good idea, we are sure that the leaders of your church will be interested in seeing that idea put into action.

 

Elements of Church Growth

 

Questions to ask as you work to bring about growth within your church and Sunday school…

 

Question 1 - Why is the church important?  Why is church growth important?  Why is the Bible important?  (Matthew 16:13-20, I Timothy 3:14-16, Hebrews 10:19-25)

 

Question 2 – Why is it important to have a plan and goals for church and Sunday school growth and renewal?  Are you ready for change?  (Proverbs 13:16, Luke 14:25-35, Luke 5:33-39, I Timothy 4:11-16)

 

Question 3 – Why is it important to start with a focus on spiritual growth and renewal?  (II Timothy 1:3-10, Psalm 80:3-18, James 4:7-10)

 

Question 4 – Why must prayer be an important part of any growth and renewal efforts?  (Matthew 7:7-11, Luke 11:1-13)

 

Question 5 – Why is it important for every member to be involved in your growth and renewal efforts?  Why is it important for everyone to witness and extend invitations to others?  (Philippians 1:27-30, John 4:4-26, Romans 1:16-17)

 

Question 6 – Why are worship and your worship services an important part of your growth and renewal efforts?  (Ephesians 5:15-20, Psalm 29, Psalm 150)

 

Question 7 – Why are Sunday school and your other Bible study programs and groups an important part of growth and renewal efforts?  (Psalm 119:33-51, Matthew 4:1-11, James 1:22-25)

 

Question 8 – Why is fellowship important?  (I Peter 1-21-22, Colossians 3:12-17, Mark 2:13-17)

 

Question 9 – why are the opportunities for service to God and to others important?  (Matthew 25:31-46, John 13:1-17)

 

Question 10 – Why is it important to train your teachers and leaders?  (Matthew 4:18-22, James 3:1, Numbers 27-18-23)

 

Question 11 – Why is it important to be open and welcoming to visitors and new attendees?  (Hebrews 4:23-25, Luke 15: 1-7)

 

Question 12 – Why are positive public relations, promotion and advertising important?  (Matthew 4:23-25, Luke 1:1-4, Psalm 19:1-4a)

 

Question 13 – Why is it important for you to use all available modern technologies in your church and Sunday school?  (Matthew 28: 19 & 20, I Corinthians 9:22 & 23)

 

Question 14 – Where do you go from here?  (I John 3:1-3, I Corinthians 2:9, Revelation chapters 2 & 3)

 

NOTES ABOUT WITNESSING & INVITATIONS

(From the P.S.S.S.A.’s Workshop & Book “The Art of Invitation.”)

“THE GREAT COMMISSION” – OUR COMMISSION

            In Matthew 28:19 & 20, Jesus gave his final set of instructions to his disciples – and each of us – in what we know as “The Great Commission.”  He said: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  These words from Jesus were not just intended for his disciples and they are not just for pastors and church leaders today – they are for every Christian!

            As you look at “The Great Commission,” you will see four very distinctive commands: First, we are to “go!”  What does this mean to you?  It means that we are to get out of the church and out into the world.  Being a Christian isn’t just about passively sitting in the pews of a church, listening to the preacher talk.  No, it is about going to church to get instruction and to get energized and renewed, but after that, every Christian is to get out of the church and go out into the world each day and live as a true Christian – a life that will bring honor, glory and recognition to Jesus Christ.

            Trying to live out “The Great Commission” – to “go,” to “make disciples,” to “baptize” and to “teach” – should be the goal of every Christian.  But, for those people who think of themselves as just ordinary Christians, what can they do?  Yes, it is important for us to “go” out into the world and strive to live each day as a Christian example, but beyond that, what can we do?  How can we “make disciples” or “baptize” or maybe even “teach” others?

 

IT’S EVERY MEMBER’S RESPONSIBILITY

            Maybe you don’t feel that you have the talents or abilities to be involved in the work of making disciples or teaching, but still God has something very important for each and every one of us to do.  There are many things related to the church and Sunday school that everyone – regardless of age, talents or abilities – can do.  Here are a few things that come to mind…

            First, everyone can tell others about the importance of the Bible, worship, Bible study and Sunday school.  When something good happens to you, don’t you want to tell others?  Hopefully, the very best thing that ever happened to you was when Jesus Christ came into your heart.  If you really love Jesus, shouldn’t you have the desire to learn more about Him by reading His Word and by going to Sunday school and worship?  Won’t you want to invite your friends and others to share your excitement by telling them about Jesus Christ and inviting them to join you in Sunday school and church?

            Second, we should make visitors and new attendees feel welcome when they come to our church.  Surveys show that one of the big determining factors as to whether or not visitors return to a new church is the welcome that they feel.

            Third, we should be friends to other people in our church and Sunday school.  We all need Christian friends, persons that we can talk with, share with and laugh with.  Making friends requires special, continuing efforts.  To have a friend, you must be a friend.

            Fourth, you can share your personal understanding and experiences related to the Bible during Bible studies and Sunday school lessons.  Good Sunday school teachers appreciate the participation of class members.  As opportunities arise, add your understanding of the scriptures and share personal experiences to help others in their understanding of God’s Word.

            Fifth, every church member should offer help and encouragement to others.  From time to time, we all have problems and concerns.  Having the care, support, love and prayers of fellow Christians can mean so much during these times of trouble.  Whether it’s a card, a phone call, an E-mail, a personal contact or other message, your offer of help and encouragement can mean so much.  And, it can also give you an opportunity to witness about Jesus Christ.

 

WHY WITNESS OR INVITE OTHERS ANYWAY?

            It is also important for us to remember why we are being called to witness to and invite others to our churches, Sunday schools and Bible study groups.  And it is important for us to remember why we should have the desire to see all persons of all ages come to know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.  In John 3, we read about a Jewish leader named Nicodemus who came to talk to Jesus.  In verse 3 of that chapter, we read these words of Jesus: “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.”  In various translations and commentaries, we are told that the words “born again” could also be translated as “born of the spirit” or “born from above.”  Later, in verse 5, Jesus tells Nicodemus – and us – why everyone must be “born again.”  He said, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”

            Surely every Christian should have the desire to see every person come to that saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Hopefully there is not even one single person that you know that you would want to miss out on going to heaven.  But these verses from John 3 are very clear – unless a person accepts Jesus Christ into their heart and truly repents of their sins, they will not be allowed to enter heaven.  As a Christian, you should have a great desire to see each and every one of your family, friends, neighbors and others that you know come to Jesus Christ.  But, if you don’t get involved, if you don’t tell them, if you don’t try to get them involved in an in-depth Bible study program in your church, how will they hear about Jesus and His great love for them?

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

            As you begin to think about sharing your faith through an invitation, what are you going to do?  Getting your friends and others to accept your invitation is probably going to be a process.  It will probably take more than one invitation; it will take some planning and effort on your part and it may take some time.  As you begin to think about planning what you might do to extend an invitation to a friend or someone else, here are a few suggestions for how to proceed:

 

WHO WILL YOU INVITE?

            First, think about who you will invite.  Many times, opportunities to share an invitation can come up quite unexpectedly, but you also need to have some people in mind as targets for your invitation.  Who might you target?  Well, anyone who does not attend church or who does not know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior should be seen as a possible target, but you need to be a little more specific.  Your best prospects are people you know, people who know you – your friends and relatives.  Make a list of prospects starting with your friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc.  One group that you should especially consider is those people who are undergoing some sort of change in their lives.  People who have just been married, have had a child, have moved, have started a new job, who have lost a job, who have been divorced, etc. are often more receptive to an invitation.  One other note here: Make your initial list as large as you wish, but don’t try to target everyone on the list at once.  It is best to focus your invitations on a small group of no more than three to five people.

 

WHAT WILL YOU INVITE THEM TO?

            Second, decide what you are going to invite people to.  This might seem like an unnecessary step to some people, but it is very important.  Your eventual goal should be to get these new people into your church and into an in-depth Bible study group.  But the people that you invite may not be all that receptive to just coming to such a group.  With that fact in mind, you would probably start by trying to develop an even closer relationship and friendship with the prospects on your list.  Make definite plans to get together with them to talk, perhaps over lunch or another meal.  Invite them to your home.  Invite their family to join your family for a picnic or to go bowling.  The first invitation that you extend to someone should probably be to something that they are sure to find interesting and enjoyable.  In fact, that initial invitation may not have anything to do even remotely with your church, but it can be a way to develop a closer friendship with the prospect.  And as you get to know them better and as they get to know you better, hopefully you will be able to talk with them on a more personal level and eventually start to talk with them about coming with you to something at your church.

            But even before you invite someone to an actual church service or Sunday school class, you might invite them to come with you to a special service at your church – like a choir concert or a special Christmas or Easter service – or you might invite them to a special church or Sunday school class fellowship activity.  And, hopefully, as people become involved with these special activities, they will also then have a desire to become a part of the church and Sunday school with the people that they have met at these events.

            Other special events like concerts, screenings of Christian or family movies and events with special guest speakers may also be of interest to your prospects.  Once you get people interested in some of these church-related activities, you should then work to get the person actually involved in a Bible study group, Sunday school class and in the worship services.  But remember, take it slow?  Getting these new persons interested in being a part of your church or a Bible study group will be a process – perhaps a slow process.  Don’t force the issues.  As you develop closer relationships with these friends, you will see increased opportunities to share information about your church and Jesus Christ.  And, as these persons get to know you, they will hopefully be even more receptive to accepting that invitation to go with you to a worship service or other activity at your church.

 

            As you think about possible events or activities to invite your friends and others to attend, there are several important questions that I think you should consider.  They are…

  • What’s special about the event or activity?

  • Why do you attend or want to attend?

  • How has this event or a similar event or activity changed your life?

  • Why should your friends or other prospects attend?  What’s in it for them?

  • Will your friends and other new people be welcomed and accepted?

Next, tell absentees and dropouts that they are missed.  Do you really care about the people that you know who are not attending Sunday school and church regularly or who have stopped attending?  You should!  And you should do all that you can to invite these persons back to your church.  Whether you use a personal contact, a phone call, an E-mail or some other method, your concern and invitation might be the spark to get these persons to come back and become active again.

      And, finally, PRAY!  There’s power in prayer!  Pray often for your church, your pastor, your Sunday school, your Sunday school teacher, the children and youth of your church and Sunday school, and all others involved.  And, very important, pray for God’s guidance and strength as you strive to live each day for Him.

      These are some very important things that every Christian can do.  They are things that YOU and every other member of your church, Sunday school, Sunday school class and Bible study group should be doing!  But, the one specific area where we want to focus our attention in this book is the first area that we mentioned – the whole area of witnessing and invitation!

 

BUILDING COURAGE

            Start by sharing an invitation in a way which will not bring you face-to-face with others.  Even though most people find it quite easy to talk with their friends and others about almost any topic, religion and the sharing of one’s faith seems to be the exception.  There seems to be an unspoken prohibition against talking about spiritual matters that exists between many people.  Issues related to health, relationships and just about every other topic are readily discussed openly between people at many different levels, but the topic that is perhaps the most important – one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ – seems to be off limits.

            Why don’t people talk about spiritual matters and their personal faith with others?  There seems to be some sort of fear that such a discussion will somehow offend or make the other person uncomfortable.  And many even fear that such a discussion might damage or even destroy their relationship with the other person.  So, what do they do?  They don’t do anything!

            If you find yourself reluctant to talk with another person face-to-face about your Christian faith or to extend an invitation to your church or a church-related event to someone in person, you might start by sharing your invitation in a way that will not bring you face-to-face with others.  Most people are much more confident about sending a letter, a tract, a Facebook post or an E-mail to someone than they are at talking to the person face-to-face regarding spiritual matters.  And even talking on the phone to someone is often easier than an in-person meeting.

            These acts of sharing an invitation in a non-face-to-face way might start with a general invitation or witness to someone that you don’t even know.  And, again, as you see your confidence building, you could move on to directing these same types of non-threatening activities toward specific people.  For example, you might start by going to your local Christian bookstore and purchasing a number of good Christian tracts.  Start by enclosing one of these tracts with bills that you pay or letters that you send.  Leave a tract on the table with your tip at a restaurant.  Leave tracts lay on the bus, in public restrooms, and in other public areas where they will be seen and hopefully picked up and read.

            Your next step might be in the form of an anonymous gift to prospects on your list.  You might send them a Bible, a good Christian book or a Christian video like “The Jesus Movie.”

            Once you start to get into the habit of giving out invitations, even in this non-face-to-face way, you should be ready to move on to begin a slightly more personal form of invitation.  This next level of invitation might again involve little or no actual personal contact, but at this point you should be ready to begin putting your name to the invitation and specifically inviting people to come to events or activities at your church.

            Once again, we are probably talking about the use of invitation tools like tracts, invitation postcards and similar items, but at this level you should begin to write a personal note or invitation on the tract or postcard, and you should also list something specific that you are inviting the person to attend.  For example, you might leave a tract on a co-worker’s desk.  Write a few words of encouragement and a brief invitation in the margins of the tract.  You might also send a friend a greeting card in which you have written a few lines of encouragement and an invitation.  And, don’t forget the possible uses of modern communications methods like text messages, social media like Facebook and Twitter, and Email.  These are great ways to extend an invitation to a friend or other person without actually coming face-to-face with them.  To learn more about ways to witness through social media, check out the book “© Sticky Jesus – How to Live Out Your Faith Online,” by Toni Birdsong and Tami Heim.

 

SHINE NATURALLY AROUND NON-CHRISTIANS

            The words that you use in extending an invitation or witness are only a small part of the complete invitation message that your prospects will get from you.  They way that you express the invitation, the confidence with which you speak, and the evidence of your own personal faith as exhibited through your day-to-day life are perhaps even more important than the words you use.  This all starts with your efforts to deepen your personal faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.  But it doesn’t stop there!  It also involves your living each day for our Lord; in a way that reflects His love, care and concern for your life.

            Do you live a life that shows others that you are proud to be a Christian and that you have accepted Jesus Christ into your heart as your very own personal Lord and Savior?  Or, do you act like you are ashamed of your faith and your relationship with our Lord?  In Luke 9:26, Jesus said, “If a person is ashamed of me and my message, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in my glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.”

            There are many, many distractions in the world around each of us that would try to pull us away from Christ.  And there are many people in the world that will scoff at a person who doesn’t drink, smoke, gamble, swear and do all of the other things that the devil would tempt us to do.  But still – the question is – what does Jesus Christ want you to do?  The Bible tells us that He wants us to live each day in a way that will honor Him.  Following Jesus Christ as the example for one’s life is certainly the high goal that every person should have.  And, yes, none of us are or ever will be perfect, but striving to live each day closer to Jesus Christ and continually striving to do His will in all things is the life goal that every person should have.

            All Christians should let their light shine naturally around non-Christians.  What does this mean?  First of all, it doesn’t mean that you should be showy or pushy or pious in parading your Christian beliefs or practices before others, but rather you should be yourself.  You should calmly and quietly exhibit the love, faith and beliefs that are foundational in your life.  It means confidently living what you believe, what you know Jesus Christ wants you do in and through your life.  It means being yourself!

            Many times, Christians seem to think that if their actions and behavior are different from those of their friends, co-workers and others, they will not be accepted or that they will be singled out for ridicule.  But that is usually not true.  Most people show great respect for a person who is willing to stand up for their beliefs and adhere to a higher moral standard.  And even though the non-Christian may mock the actions and beliefs of the Christian, those actions in themselves will often be one of the most effective forms of witnessing that any Christian can exhibit.

            But what exactly are we talking about when we say that you should let your light shine naturally?  First and most important, live your beliefs.  Let your actions and your words reflect what you know to be right and wrong.  Quietly confess through your actions and words that you are a Christian.  And, make sure that you are indeed following Jesus’ example and trying to live each and every day for Him.  Beyond that, there are many other things that you might do.  For example, carry a Bible or New testament and don’t be ashamed to be seen reading it.  Quietly bow your head and give thanks before you eat when you are in a restaurant.  These are only two simple examples, but hopefully they will get you thinking about other things that you might do.  And if we are talking about letting your light shine “naturally,” we are not really talking about a lot of things that you can plan.  We are talking about letting things just happen…naturally!

            At this point, you will hopefully be willing to begin expressing a more personal witness to everyone through the general contacts that you have.  For example, when you send an E-mail, add a verse of scripture at the end or add a note about a favorite Christian website.  If you use Facebook or similar social networking websites, post information about your Christian beliefs, your faith, church activities you are involved with and a general invitation for your friends to join you in church, Sunday school or at specific Christian events.  And, add a few words of Christian encouragement to the end of the message on your telephone answering machine.

 

PRAY!

         There’s power in prayer!  Hopefully you believe that very strongly, too.  But even if you do, you are probably not making the most of the great potential that awaits each of us in prayer.

            Prayer is certainly one of the best ways for any person to deepen their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Through prayer, we can talk with Christ as you would a friend.  And, like a friend, He wants us to share everything with Him.  God doesn’t just want us to bring the big things – all of those major problems, crisis events and big needs – to Him.  He also wants us to bring the little things.  He wants to hear our joys, our praise, our thanksgiving and more.  And, prayer isn’t just a one-way street; it isn’t only about us talking to God.  It is also about us stopping and quietly listening for God to speak to us as well.

            As you think about witnessing or extending an invitation to others, there are a number of things that you need to take to the Lord in prayer.  First, as you consider those to whom you should be targeting your invitations, pray!  Pray for your prospects by name each day.  Pray that God will make each of them receptive to the invitation and witness that you extend.  Pray for boldness and bravery as you consider and then actually extend the invitation.  Pray that God will give you the right words.  Pray for opportunities to talk to and share an invitation with others.  And, once you have had an opportunity to plant a seed of invitation, pray that God, through the Holy Spirit, will bring about the growth.

 

USE “TOOLS” TO CONVEY YOUR INVITATION

            We have already talked about using tools such as tracts to begin witnessing in a non-threatening way, in a way that will not bring you face-to-face with others as you begin to develop the skills involved in witnessing and invitation.  But “tools” can also be a big help as you extend a personal invitation to a friend, neighbor or other person.

            What is a “tool?”  It is anything that makes a job easier.  A tool like a hammer can make it much easier to drive a nail into a wall.  Trying to drive in a nail without a tool – with your bare hand – would be next to impossible, and probably quite painful.  And even using a tool unsuited for the job – say a paint brush – will not be a very good idea either.  But, with the proper tool, the job can be done quickly and effortlessly.

            Selecting the proper tools to make the work involved in witnessing and invitation might seem like a difficult task, but with a little thought and imagination, you should be able to come up with some very creative ideas for things that will make your invitation work easier and more effectively.  Visit your local Christian bookstore.  There you will find a large assortment of items – like Christian books, magazines and videos – that might help you start a conversation, build interest and generate some real questions and discussion about faith, the church and Jesus Christ with each of the potential targets on your list.  Many churches record their pastor’s sermon on CD or DVD.  Sharing a copy of one of these messages with a friend can also be a great way to open the door for more discussion and an invitation.  Similarly, your church’s newsletters and even your weekly bulletins can be shared as great witnessing and invitation tools.

 

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT WITNESSING?

            The resource book, “Where to Find it in the Bible” (by Ken Anderson; Nelson Publishing, 1996), lists 166 different scripture verses or passages from the Bible that relate to the word “witness.”  Here are just a few that you might read and study:

  • Matthew 4:19 (Becoming fishers of men)

  • Matthew 5:14-16 (Let your light shine)

  • Matthew 10:32-33 (God acknowledges those who acknowledge Him)

  • Mark 4:3-20 (Sowing seed on various soil)

  • Luke 5:27-32 (Reaching out to the lost)

  • Luke 9: 18-20 (Declaring the Lordship of Christ)

  • John 4:35-38 (Harvest time is now)

  • Romans 1:16 (Unashamed of the Gospel)

  • Romans 10:9-15 (The role of witnessing)

  • I Corinthians 3:5-9 (One plants, one waters, God gives the growth)

  • I Corinthians 12:3 (The Holy Spirit enhances witnessing)

  • II Corinthians 4:3-6 (Witnessing to those blinded by Satan)

  • II Corinthians 5:14 (Compelled by the love of Christ)

  • Ephesians 6:15 (Ready to serve and witness)

  • Philippians 1:27-30 (witness in whatever circumstances)