Yesterday, my church, Wichita Bible Church (WBC), launched a Sunday School ministry that we are calling E-Classes, which is short for “Equipping Classes.” WBC had its last Sunday School class in 2009. So, it has been a while for classes of this sort.
Some churches don’t see the necessity of a Sunday School ministry. Some churches don’t have the able leaders or teachers for Sunday School. Some people in church want to have Sunday School but the leadership won’t support it. There is a myriad of reasons a church may not have a Sunday School.
At WBC, we felt led by the Lord to launch this ministry and I want to share with you four biblical reasons that churches should consider adding a “Sunday School element” to their weekly activities. These four reasons have also become our purposes for this E-Classes ministry.
First, Sunday School exists to equip people for the work of the ministry – “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). The idea of training up your congregation to counsel one another, instruct one another, build up one another, and encourage one another is a foundation for the church’s existence. Sunday School supports that foundation. In our church, before E-Classes, we had one corporate meeting – our Sunday morning worship service – and that was it. Other than small groups that met throughout the week, there was no other training ground to equip people to do ministry. Now, we have a place for training – Sunday School.
Second, Sunday School exists to promote spiritual maturity – “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:28-29). Many youth groups or other ministry groups have used these two verses are their philosophy of ministry. Paul’s challenge to us here is to encourage spiritual growth in everyone, no matter the type of gathering and no matter the level of maturity. Spiritual growth comes through studying and applying the Word of God. Our E-Classes are biblically anchored; each one of them will focus on promoting spiritual growth in our people, no matter where they are in their spiritual journey.
Third, Sunday School exists as a training ground for men and women who have been given the ability to teach – “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching” (Rom 12:4-7). Just like a muscle needs to be worked or it will weaken or atrophy, a spiritual gift must be used in order for it to grow and strengthen. Those given the ability to teach must be given a venue to exercise their spiritual gift. Teaching should not be monopolized by the teaching pastor. In fact, his role is to equip others to teach, as we previously discussed. At WBC, we have several laymen who will be teaching throughout the year. Our E-Classes will be a strategic place for building up teachers of the Word of God.
Fourth, Sunday School exists to encourage disciple-making by teaching them to obey God – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20). Teaching obedience can be done in a myriad of ways and encouraging discipleship happens, and must happen, on every level and in every ministry of the church. So if a church has a Sunday School ministry, disciple-making needs to exist there.