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Reverberations after rediscovering Sunday School
Andrea Higgins, Baptist Press
July 31, 2008

Reverberations after rediscovering Sunday School

Reverberations after rediscovering Sunday School
Andrea Higgins, Baptist Press
July 31, 2008

RIDGECREST — Mike

Hatfield paused to think about what the impact of the 2008 Sunday School Week

at Ridgecrest Conference Center might be.

Hatfield, minister of

education from First Baptist Church in Kissimmee, Fla., said Carol Kern’s adult

Sunday School class doubled in the year following her solo trip to the 2007

Sunday school conference sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the

Southern Baptist Convention.

“She told us about (Sunday

School Week) with such passion, people signed up a year in advance,”

Hatfield said. “Now there are 19 of us up here. I can feel that same

excitement; that same fever. All of them have it this year.”

The July 11-14

conference brought nearly 1,000 ministers of education, pastors and Sunday School

teachers together in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains for an intense

series of workshops entitled “reDiscover Sunday School.”

Keynote speaker Tom

McCoy, pastor of Thompson Station (Tenn.) Church, had an unsettling question

for the crowd on hand:

“If everybody in

the church led the same amount of people to Christ that you lead to Christ, how

often would your baptistery be used?” McCoy asked.

Sunday School, he said,

is a great way to grow the church and is where the church can model the

leadership of Christ.

McCoy said Thompson

Station Church’s 130 Sunday School classes all started from one class — taught

by McCoy’s wife when there were just 50 people attending the church. “Now,

it’s 1,700. I know what a challenge it is to build classes,” he said.

“But it really

doesn’t matter what I know. It’s Who I know. If you’ll take what you know and

let God put His anointing on it, it’s an incredible victory you’ll win,”

McCoy said.

“When God takes you

from the safety of your adult class and puts you into the dangerous shark tank

of eighth grade boys, He’s gonna protect you,” he cracked, referring to

excuses people make to avoid teaching Sunday School.

“The church exists

for those who are not yet part of it,” he challenged. “Some of you

don’t believe it. ‘Oh no, the church exists for me and my friends to get

together and have a great time.’ No, you can do that at Kiwanis.

Bruce Raley, LifeWay’s

director of leadership ministry, training and events, said if Sunday School

classes ultimately want to impact their environment, culture and community,

they must struggle with this question: “What really is our purpose?”

“To be a church

that’s missional, we have to have Sunday School classes that are also

missional,” said Raley.

Raley said people inside

the church often are focused internally and don’t have a good perspective of

people outside the church.

“I wonder if we

have taken ourselves out of the world,” he rhetorically asked.

Regardless of the

answers, the foundation of reaching people anywhere is the gospel, Raley said.

“People need the word

of God. They need it in the pulpit and they need it in Sunday School,” he

said, adding that many Sunday School classes have strayed from solid teaching

of the Bible. “We need to go back to teaching the Bible in Sunday School.”