Opportunities from Offering Both Sunday School and Small Groups, Part 2

Monday 10th March, 2008

In Part 1, I shared that Kerry Mackey wrote a great blog post entitled What Are the Challenges Churches Face in Providing Both Sunday Schoola and Small Groups? The post was a response to the question contained in the title by Daryl Eldridge of Rockbridge Seminary. Many churches are asking this question. In Part 1, I shared the first four of Mackey's eight areas (listed below without commentary). In Part 2, I will share the final four in all capitals followed by my commentary. Consider these opportunities that churches face:

  • SENIOR PASTORS.
  • STAFF MEMBERS.
  • US VERSUS THEM MENTALITY.
  • DIFFERENT LEADERSHIP STRUCTURES.
  • ENTITLEMENT ISSUES. In many churches, Sunday School has everything provided: curriculum, childcare, space, and coffee. But small groups frequently have to purchase their own curriculum, secure their own childcare, and provide their own refreshments. This again contributes to an us versus them mentality. Some churches address this in part by providing curriculum options from which the group can choose (and the church will purchase). Other churches are beginning to ask adult classes to purchase their curriculum. The opportunity to be consistent between the two groups can again lead to a better sense of team.
  • CHILDCARE. Since volunteers provide childcare on Sundays, this issue tends to be more easily understood than curriculum issues. Some churches have tried to provide childcare vouchers for their small groups and found it to be a challenge. Most commonly, the groups provide their own childcare. Either the parents provide their own childcare, the group takes a collection to provide it at a common location (often the meeting home), or one set of members cares for the children each time the group meets.
  • CONTROL. Be consistent. As Mackey put it, most "churches don't hold their Sunday School teachers accountable" so it is strange to do so for small groups. Moving toward common accountability for some important issues for both venues can be helpful. But Mackey's advice to pursue "growth over control" is important. Guiding and encouraging can lead to greater opportunities usually than focusing on control.
  • MAINTENANCE. High expectations work better than just going through the motions. Growth is the goal rather than maintenance or survival. Expect both groups to reach out and care for people. Expect them both to launch new groups. Lead them to train and plan to grow. This can lead to greater opportunities to reach and care for all kinds of people.

For more information about small group ministry, check out these blog posts:

As I said in concluding Part 1, there are many in our world who will not attend Bible study at our churches but would accept an invitation to our homes for Bible study. But for others, it is more convenient to attend Bible study and worship together. Prayerfully consider the opportunity to do both. Be consistent. Be revolutionary!

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