Building a Revolutionary College Sunday School Class

Tuesday 2nd October, 2007

Chad Stillwell, Collegiate Ministry Group Strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, has written a great article entitled 7 Keys to an Effective and Great College Sunday School or Bible Study. I want to share his seven keys in all capitals followed by my commentary:

  1. BE AN AUTHENTIC AND RELEVANT LEADER. Students have already been exposed to enough hypocrisy and facade. They want leaders who are real, who are honest, who are transparent. They don't expect perfection. In fact, they are put off by it. They don't believe it. They don't identify with it. In Chad's word, "Students will learn when we share our own struggles and failings." And students know whether we are leading from a fresh relationship with God, or not.
  2. ALLOW TIME FOR FELLOWSHIP. Relationships are important. Life happens fast. Students like to be together. They need time to connect, especially if some are only coming home occasionally. As Chad put it, "You can and should plan...this time and not see it as a distraction." Build on it. It can make Bible study even more meaningful, and it encourages subsequent attendance.
  3. MAKE THE TIME E.P.I.C. The initials/anagram stands for Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich, and Connected. Get them involved. Make Bible study an experience they will remember and that will impact their lives. Get them involved in the learning session. Utilize their senses. Get them talking. Get them moving. Get them thinking. Be creative. Don't allow a lull in the experience. Paint visually rich stories. Show pictures. Show videos. Take them places. Debrief what they saw. Help them think about what it was like back then. Make learning experiences shared ones. Help them to interact with each other, with God's Word, and with God. Utilize fully the time before, during, after, and between classes. Help vital relationships to form and grow.
  4. REMEMBER YOUR GOALS. Lead students to develop, set, and pursue goals for the class. That creates ownership. Set goals for contacts, for invitations of nonChristians, for fellowship times, for ministry projects, and for enrollment and attendance. Pray. Evaluate progress. Identify needs/dreams. Set priorities. Develop goals and action plans to accomplish those goals. Celebrate. And evaluate and begin over again.
  5. CONTROL YOUR TIME. Make the investment of your time for the class a priority. Many competing claims on your time and energy will present themselves. Plan to impact lives through the class. Pray and prepare well. Limit the chasing of rabbits. Deal with problems lovingly and immediately. Start on time. I like Chad's suggestion of changing the "Sunday School meeting time to make it 15 minutes earlier and provide some activities for students that arrive early." Because fellowship is so important, that idea alone could result in growth!
  6. KEEP IT BIBLICAL AND STRAIGHT FORWARD. This is more than a pep talk. This is more than an educational seminar. This is time to lead students to meet God in Bible study. Open God's Word and let God talk to them. Listen to your students to discover their needs. Teach to meet their needs. Make it relevant and real, but help them to hear's God's message. Help them to understand what God wants them to do as a result. Help them to consider steps to be accountable at applying His truth to their lives.
  7. FIND AND CALL OUT STUDENT LEADERS. Multiply yourself by investing in leaders. Apprentice. Enlist. Delegate. Encourage. Support. Challenge. Love them. Take them with you on visits. Ask them to help you plan fellowships. Assign sections of the lesson or leadership of subgroups. Involve them in planning activities for the class. Lead them to set goals . Challenge them to reach and lead other students. Have high expectations. Watch as many exceed your expectations!

Begin right now by praying for students by name. Ask for God's leadership. Ask God to allow you to make a difference in their lives. Which of these seven keys needs the most work in your class? Where do you need to start? Take steps this year to make the college class great. Be revolutionary!

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