Small Group Home Bible Studies Have More Time

Saturday 5th August, 2006
One of the limiting factors for revolutionary Sunday School is time.  Most Sunday School is given between 45 minutes and an hour to accomplish all its tasks.  Most are followed by a worship service which brings Sunday School to close even if it is not finished doing its work for the day.  Add on top of that the American disposition toward time consciousness and our mass production culture which says we need to do as much as possible in as little time as possible, and there are arbitrary time walls all around Sunday School.

What if Sunday School had 75 minutes or 90 minutes or (gasp) two hours to accomplish its work?  Would it be even more life-changing?  Is there a time limit beyond which it would lose some of its appeal and effectiveness?  In other words, is two hours too long?  Would people continue to come to Sunday School and worship if they took a combined three to three and a half hours?  I am not sure, but I think 75-90 minutes for Sunday School might produce enough additional benefits for it be considered attractive rather than discouraging.

For what do we need more time?  The majority of teachers with whom I talk around the state and beyond tell me that they seldom finish the lesson.  In particular, time is often rushed on the application section of the lesson.  If we are working to teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded (Great Commission) we must be more intentional in the application of God's truth.  There is often so much scripture to cover that teachers rush through it (often with more lecture than is effective) rather than working for more participative teaching methods to address the learning styles of attenders.  More time is often needed for intentional fellowship, for members and guests to get acquainted.  More time is needed to address plans, to report on and assign contacts, and to share prayer requests and pray together.

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Time is one of the advantages that small group Bible studies have when they meet in a home at another time than Sunday morning.  With no worship service afterwards, home groups can meet for 90 minutes and be intentional without rushing.  It is still important to have a set time when the group will end for a variety of reasons, such as helping parents predict when they will pick up their children, etc.

What would it take to give Sunday School more time?  Would the results be worth the effort to make the change?  What else does Sunday School need to do to have the greatest impact, to be as revolutionary as possible?

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