Question?

What do you think has traditionally been the most effective at reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Church Worship Services or Sunday School?

Let me know what you think!

Advertisements

About Pastor Wayne

I am a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate who is glad to know that we can have hope in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ because His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). I am a conservative, Bible believing Christian Pastor. I am married to a very godly young woman who has blessed me with a precious daughter. I hope this blog will be thought provoking and encouraging to all of you! God Bless!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Question?

  1. Oscar Mise says:

    I think the most valuable tool is the Sunday School hour. It equips people with the word to go with and the knowledge of what to say. We just have to pray they are willing.

  2. William Futrell says:

    Wayne,

    I guess that depends on what mean by reaching people with the gospel. I believe reaching people with the gospel and discipleship are two different things, but yet they are closely connected. Disciples do not become such until they are reached with the gospel. However, in our context of western Christianity many have been “reached” with the gospel but are not deeply devoted followers of Jesus Christ. That being said, Sunday School has to be the answer, however it needs to be done differently than how it is “traditionally” done.

    • Pastor Wayne says:

      Thank you William, you brought up an interesting thought,

      Reaching people with the gospel and discipleship are two different topics! Although, that is not the focus of my question, let me briefly respond to what you have brought up. It is sad that many people are “reached” with the gospel, and yet, they never become devoted followers of Jesus Christ. But could that be due to a flaw in both what we call reaching people and in how we assume that we are reaching people. Most churches have scores of people who were baptized into their membership who have nothing to do with the church only a short while later. Is that an assimilation problem? Possibly! But could it also be a problem in how we are reaching them? (See: 1 John 2:19).

      Disciples do not become disciples until they are reached with the gospel message. But they must receive the gospel from weak and ineffective messengers. We are lacking in both our evangelistic methods and in our discipleship of those we have assumed to have evangelized. In our ability to reach and in our ability to keep. This is in large part due to a flaw in both our thoughts of what reaching people means, and in how we develop methods to go about reaching people according to that faulty assumption. We have made evangelistic methods that are so pragmatically oriented that they come across as being canned. We have also not given a proper balance to our presentation of the gospel. It must be authoritative, loving, intellectual, emotional to a degree, and finally patient. I think we are too quick to set the hook in the mouth of our fish before they have swallowed the hook deeply enough! This in my opinion leads to a lot of false professions and subsequent baptisms leading to 1 John 2:19 in the lives of people who need the Lord! People bite on the hook and we begin to reel them in, only to see them break away from the hook when they get close to the boat! And let’s assume for my analogy that we are using live worms for bait. When we reel the bait back in most of the bait is still intact. They only digested a small portion of the worm. We have to be patient with people, most require time for the reality of what they are presented with truly takes root in their hearts. Only then can we allow God to set the hook deeper into their being. Jesus demanded the devotion of His disciples. That kind of devotion only comes when people see Him for who He is and falls passionately in love with Him. Calls to avoid Hell and find Heaven pale in comparison with calls to fall in love with the one who loves you more than you could ever imagine. Fire Insurance doesn’t save! Only the mercy and grace of God saves!

      As for Sunday school. S.S., with an open enrollment, allows the opportunity for many who do not know Christ to find Him. Barna reported several years ago that approximately 14 million people attended Sunday School on a regular basis while claiming to be unbelievers. They were seeking! S.S. gave them a safe environment to do just that. An environment that allows them to let the bait sink deeply into their soul. S.S. was originally designed to with an extremely evangelistic element to it! Ken Hemphill argues that it was the primary element of S.S., and I agree. I differ with you on one hand and agree on another. You say that Sunday School has to be done differently than how it is “traditionally” done. I agree that it has to be done differently than most are currently doing it. There are a lot of ways that we need to contextualize S.S. to our cultural milieu. However to say that it must be done differently than it has been traditionally done is a gross error! When Sunday School is done the way it was traditionally done, it has proven to be the most effective evangelistic and assimilation tool the church has seen in the last 150 years. The problem is not how it was traditionally done. The problem is in how we have allowed it to lose its structure and overall focus. Most churches today don’t have an effective S.S. because they have allowed it to stagnate and calcify. You can change its name, you can move it into peoples homes, you can contextualize it in multiple ways, but if you don’t repair its traditional structure and overall focus it will not be as effective as it could be.

      God Bless you all!

  3. William Futrell says:

    Wayne,

    I would agree with almost everything that you have said. However, I am not sure that emphasizing reaching people, teaching people, and minstering to people is how Sunday School has been done in my life span at least. Sunday School has to be a place that encourages people to invest their lives in other people. This rarely occurs by simply listening to another lecture. As Ed Stetzer says, we must move our people from “sitting in rows into sitting in circles”. Sunday School embraces its fundamental missional purpose when we invest in the other people in the room. That is why we have groups at EBC instead of a Sunday School. Our Goal is not to have impersonal classes where people are only superficially connected to each other. Our goal is to create disciples that truely live life together and fulfill the Great Comission together as we live and understand our common purpose that God has infused in the DNA of those born twice.

    • Pastor Wayne says:

      Hey William,

      I really don’t understand your argument in your last post. I believe that we agree more than you think! As I said in my earlier response,

      The problem is not how it was traditionally done. The problem is in how we have allowed it to lose its structure and overall focus. Most churches today don’t have an effective S.S. because they have allowed it to stagnate and calcify. You can change its name, you can move it into peoples homes, you can contextualize it in multiple ways, but if you don’t repair its traditional structure and overall focus it will not be as effective as it could be.

      If Sunday School is only about discipleship then we have missed the boat. Same is true if it is about evangelism. It is true that in a lot of churches the original design of S.S. has not been effectively done in our lifetime. But the ones that have done this have shown to be among the most effective in our convention – i.e. First Baptist Jacksonville. You are right that people need a place to connect and serve. In the original design of S.S. that was one of the essential elements. I am sorry, but I really have not gotten on the Ed Stetzer bandwagon. What difference does it make if people sit in rows or circles? I understand his point, but most S.S. classes don’t sit in rows anyway. Most sit in a circle or around a table or three. In fact the only one that I know of that primarily sat in rows, was EBC when I attended back around 2001. I am sure that has changed now! As you say, “S.S. embraces its fundamental missional purpose when we invest in the other people in the room.” That is what S.S. was originally designed to do, but with the added aspect of bringing others into the group. If you haven’t read Ken Hemphill’s book, “Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur,” I highly recommend it.

      Basically all I am arguing is that if we look at how S.S. was originally designed, not how it is currently, “traditionally” being done, then we will see a way to help churches return to their evangelistic fervor. Especially churches that are small and without the resources of an Englewood Baptist Church. Most smaller churches would never in a million years allow the name of Sunday School to be replace with Bible Fellowship Groups. Not saying they are bad or anything. I am only asserting that most churches don’t have the freedom to attempt a name change. The essence of Sunday School, its original structure and function, must be repaired. Again it really doesn’t matter what you call it, where you have it, how people sit, or any other way of contextualizing it. If the structure and function are not adequately laid out, they will all fail. I know that EBC has a great structure and function! In fact, your structure and function is closer to the original design of S.S. than most would assume. When S.S. or B.F.G. or whatever operate correctly, the end result will be evangelistic growth that is sustainable!

      Love ya brother!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s