Reverberations after rediscovering Sunday School
    July 31 2008 by Andrea Higgins, Baptist Press

    RIDGECREST — Mike Hatfield paused to think about what the impact of the 2008 Sunday School Week at Ridgecrest Conference Center might be.

    Hatfield, minister of education from First Baptist Church in Kissimmee, Fla., said Carol Kern's adult Sunday School class doubled in the year following her solo trip to the 2007 Sunday school conference sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    "She told us about (Sunday School Week) with such passion, people signed up a year in advance," Hatfield said. "Now there are 19 of us up here. I can feel that same excitement; that same fever. All of them have it this year."

    The July 11-14 conference brought nearly 1,000 ministers of education, pastors and Sunday School teachers together in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains for an intense series of workshops entitled "reDiscover Sunday School."

    Keynote speaker Tom McCoy, pastor of Thompson Station (Tenn.) Church, had an unsettling question for the crowd on hand:

    "If everybody in the church led the same amount of people to Christ that you lead to Christ, how often would your baptistery be used?" McCoy asked.

    Sunday School, he said, is a great way to grow the church and is where the church can model the leadership of Christ.

    McCoy said Thompson Station Church's 130 Sunday School classes all started from one class — taught by McCoy's wife when there were just 50 people attending the church. "Now, it's 1,700. I know what a challenge it is to build classes," he said.

    "But it really doesn't matter what I know. It's Who I know. If you'll take what you know and let God put His anointing on it, it's an incredible victory you'll win," McCoy said.

    "When God takes you from the safety of your adult class and puts you into the dangerous shark tank of eighth grade boys, He's gonna protect you," he cracked, referring to excuses people make to avoid teaching Sunday School.

    "The church exists for those who are not yet part of it," he challenged. "Some of you don't believe it. 'Oh no, the church exists for me and my friends to get together and have a great time.' No, you can do that at Kiwanis.

    Bruce Raley, LifeWay's director of leadership ministry, training and events, said if Sunday School classes ultimately want to impact their environment, culture and community, they must struggle with this question: "What really is our purpose?"

    "To be a church that's missional, we have to have Sunday School classes that are also missional," said Raley.

    Raley said people inside the church often are focused internally and don't have a good perspective of people outside the church.

    "I wonder if we have taken ourselves out of the world," he rhetorically asked.

    Regardless of the answers, the foundation of reaching people anywhere is the gospel, Raley said.

     "People need the word of God. They need it in the pulpit and they need it in Sunday School," he said, adding that many Sunday School classes have strayed from solid teaching of the Bible. "We need to go back to teaching the Bible in Sunday School."

    7/31/2008 8:45:00 AM by Andrea Higgins, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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