Help Me Design A Poll About Sunday School Models

Breakfast With A Revolutionary

This morning I had breakfast with SBTS alumni Darryl Wilson. He is the guy behind the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Sunday School Blog titled Sunday School Revolutionary.

We had great conversation about Sunday school and it’s role in local church ministry. If you teach Sunday school or lead a small group, you can find practical advice on his blog.

You Design A Poll About Sunday School

The conversation got me thinking about the competing visions that many people have about Sunday school. For an example, go read the comments on my post about Sunday school decline in the SBC.

I’m designing a poll here on Said at Southern about these different ideas. But to be fair, I want to get your feedback on the survey. Here are my initial thoughts, leave a comment to make suggestions.

In your opinion, what is the ideal model for adult Sunday school?

  • Seminary education for lay people that aims for maximum Bible instruction.
  • Relationship building groups that aims for maximum fellowship.
  • A tool for evangelism that aims for maximum outreach.
  • A tool for practical outreach that aims for community service.
  • Family worship in large groups that aims for intergenerational instruction.
  • Let it die, all of the above goals are better reached without traditional Sunday school

Leave a comment to let me know how you would modify this poll. I’ll probably post it later this week.

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15 Responses to Help Me Design A Poll About Sunday School Models

  1. Todd Benkert says:

    Tony,

    I think you need a category for those who see Sunday School as fulfilling multiple purposes: practical Bible instruction and application, small group fellowship, and a platform for outreach and ministry.

    Blessings,
    Todd

    Todd Benkerts last blog post..Reflecting Christ’s Love

  2. Trevin Wax says:

    I agree. It’s hard to choose between these two.

    We concentrate on three areas in our Sunday School: a place for intensive, engaging Bible study, a place for connecting with other people and having accountability, and a place for inviting other people into the church’s fellowship.

    Trevin Waxs last blog post..Guest Post: Why a Carpenter?

  3. j razz says:

    Seminary education for lay people that aims for maximum Bible instruction

    I get the same education from my church that I paid to recieve at Union University. That is not to knock Union but to edify the church. The Church in America, generally speaking, abdicated their role some time ago to the academic institution which has led to shallow “christians”. Utlizing Sunday School for topical doctrinal/ethics teaching compliments the expository proclamation of the scriptures and gospel from the pulpit.

    I am not trying to be dogmatic and say that this is the only way, I am just saying it is beneficial and is a way in which we strive to teach the Bible alongside our preaching of the Bible making the most of our corporate meetings.

    j razz

    j razzs last blog post..Einstein: The Bible Is An Expression Of Human Weakness

  4. Tony Kummer says:

    Todd –
    I think you’re right. I could allow responders to pick multiple answers and reword the question:

    In your opinion, what should be our primary approach to Sunday school. (pick up to 3)

    Of course this mixed approach forces us to ask how much can be done in an hour ( or 45 minutes in some churches)

    I guess that is my bias in the way I originally designed the poll. It seems like we always tend to focus on one goal to the detriment of the others.

  5. Andrew says:

    Can I vote for all four?

    In other, but related news, we really need to find a model of discipleship that DOES work (assuming SS doesn’t…which I, as a Sunday School teacher, doubt!) I recently finished an analysis of ACP data, looking at retention of newly baptized members…and the results are disheartening, to say the least.

    Please read my post:

    http://adubhigg.wordpress.com/2008/05/13/the-denominational-stool-has-gotten-a-little-wobbly/

    (or link through to my blog and look for “The denominational stool has gotten a little wobbly”)

    and consider its consequences: Even as baptisms decline, we are still losing people “out the side door”…and I think that even the baptismal decline is a symptom of our failure to properly do discipleship….

  6. Jason Lowe says:

    Tony,

    I suggest adding “A primary means for assimilating new members into the church” to the options for the poll.

    Thanks brother; I look forward to seeing the results!

  7. Todd Benkert says:

    I agree with your assessment on what can be accomplished in 45 minutes. I think we have two disctictly important issues: (1) What should be the purpose(s) of Sunday School? (2) How do we go about fulfilling those purposes?

    Blessings,
    Todd

    Todd Benkerts last blog post..Reflecting Christ’s Love

  8. Matt Svoboda says:

    “Let it die, all of the above goals are better reached without traditional Sunday school”

    All of those goals are very important. I do truly feel that they can be better achieved by other means. Traditional Sunday School done right can be very good. But I still wouldn’t say it is the most effective way to achieve those goals.

    Not all of those can be accomplished in a Sunday School setting and yet they all need accomplished. How can this be done? In home small groups! This way you can have up to 2 hours! This way you leave nothing out and can effective achieve all that which the church is to do!

    I know most of you hate my answer, but it is still in love!

    Matt

    Matt Svobodas last blog post..The Pastor and Professionalism

  9. Pingback: In the Blogosophere « Kingdom People

  10. chioulaoshi says:

    Why choose? Why not all? Provided the church is big enough, you can have one (or more) class for each category. In my church, we have 12 to 14 Adult Sunday School classes each semester. We have 100-level classes for seekers and new converts, 200-level and 300-level classes for the general and advanced (covering bible, theology, church history, and practical matters like marriage etc), and even a 700-level class for seniors. Of course children and youth have their own classes too.

  11. Santiago says:

    That’s an intriguing model, chioulaoshi.

    I don’t see Sunday school as a discipleship tool. Discipleship is best done one-on-one.

    The term “fellowship” seems to have two extremes: one is the “social club” atmosphere where people gather for their own social purposes. The other is where members of the body of Christ minister to one another sacrificially. I suggest that practicing the balance in a group of people smaller than the whole congregation is important.

    The same with the manner of education in the class. On the one end is raw Biblical knowledge. On the other is how that knowledge informs your walk with Christ. We have a separate “Equipping University” (don’t get hung up on the name) on Wednesday evenings where we get Bible college and seminary-level classes. Some are even accredited. Sunday morning sermons are expository, unifying and visionary. Sunday school is more topical and allows the class to hash out some of the issues and misconceptions on a smaller level. I suggest that’s the level appropriate for Sunday school.

    My point is that the poll should maybe draw these factors as a multi-spectral elements in a few key functions or purposes of Sunday School with the option of weighing each purpose as, for example “necessary”, “unnecessary but useful”, “better accomplished in some other way than Sunday School”, “illegitimate”, etc.

    Santiagos last blog post..Elizabeth Wall – The Measure of a Life

  12. Andy Atkins says:

    Tony,

    I’m here by way of Trevin . . . I still see Sunday School as the front door (with apologies to all those who see worship as the front door). In our context, it’s the place where people bring their friends to introduce them to the church. They meet a small group of people, experience intercessory prayer, hear about opportunities for ministry and fellowship, and hear a Bible lesson. So if I could chime in on your options, I’d have to combine the relationship-building concept with the practical outreach line.

    Bottom line: I don’t want Sunday School to be about deep fellowship or discipleship as much as I want it to be a connecting point for the church. The problem we run into is when those first two points overrule everything else, because a Sunday School lesson isn’t designed to accomplish discipleship and what we call deep fellowship is the death-knell of an evangelistic Sunday School class.

    Andy Atkinss last blog post..What Are We Doing?!?!

  13. Brance says:

    how much can be done in an hour ( or 45 minutes in some churches)

    That is the primary problem as I see it. All of your goals are valid and good goals. I don’t think they can all be accomplished by traditional SS, or even non-traditional SS for that matter, if restricted to this kind of time table.

    I understand the commenter above that said his church had a dozen or more adult SS classes going at any given time. But what about the smaller and average sized churches that have 2-3 adult classes. Those would be: men, women, seniors.

    SS starts one hour before the morning service. People will show up late every week, trickling in over the course of the first half-hour of the class. Our church is small so the classes are small and one or two not present will be noticed. Then when other people need to get out of class early to prepare for a drama or some other aspect of the morning service. Your teaching time is completely ruined.

    So I vote for doing away with the practice entirely and moving the classes to another day and time. Figure out a way to achieve goals 1,2, and 5. Those are the ones I would look to first. Get your people growing and outreach and community service will happen organically.

    Brances last blog post..Just a reminder

  14. Leslie says:

    I completely agree with Todd above. Sunday School should help the attendees in building and strengthening their relationships with God and each other. Study and reflection on Scripture should encourage community, which should lead to outreach. I don’t think that we can separate these functions. But in order for Sunday School to function this way, the teachers need a lot of help! Teachers can’t do it on their own.

    Leslies last blog post..Reflection Questions

  15. barefootmeg says:

    I’d be curious to know what people’s idea is of an ideal kids Sunday school class. All that the Sunday school classes at our church have done for our kids is teach them that the Bible can’t be studied directly. You must have a preprinted curriculum to follow that includes coloring and connecting dots. Real life issues that they deal with on a day-to-day basis are not really what we’re talking about. Rather Sunday school is for discussing lofty ideals. And last but not least, they’ve learned that they absolutely HATE Sunday school and they have gotten to the point where they cry and beg not to have to attend church services with us.

    All of this has, of course, led me toward a great deal of soul searching and exploration in terms of the purpose and goal of Sunday school for kids and how it can best be achieved. I’d happily hear thoughts on the topic (or follow a link to a discussion in progress).

    barefootmegs last blog post..Why Pharaoh Falls Squarely Into the Calvinist/Arminianist Camp(s)

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