There is a story told of a pastor who retired and decided to buy an old, dilapidated ranch in West Texas. His desire was to fix up the place and sell it and earn some extra income now that he had time. The preacher worked hard, long hours clearing brush, painting fences and restoring the old house. He had to serve an evacuation notice to the mice, armadillos and rattle snakes and even a few tarantulas. In addition, his plumbing, carpentry and electrical skills were pushed to the limits. After months of much time and effort, the place looked great.
One day, one of the members of his old church came to look over the transformed ranch. Knowing that his former pastor was a humble man who rarely took credit for anything, he said, “Well pastor, you and the Lord have really done a great job with this place.” The minister smiled sheepishly and said, “Yes sir, and you should have seen it when the Lord had it all to Himself!”
No one wants to take credit for what only God can do. That would be foolish and carnal. But, as we learned last week, God blesses and uses the hard work of His people. God enjoys using the human element when He does His work in and through the local church. Jesus could have fed 5,000 without any help at all, but he used a boy and his lunch as well as His disciples to do the job. He could cause the clouds to spell out the gospel in the sky, but He chooses to allow us the privilege of being partners with Him in ministry.
In the work of reaching and discipling through the Sunday School, only God can save people and bring spiritual maturity in their lives. It is God who adds to His church, but He uses ordinary garden-variety Christians like us in the process. As we saw last week, our part in Sunday School growth is to 1) work our prospects, 2) make regular contacts with our enrollees and 3) encourage new people to enroll in the class. Today, we will conclude with three other tasks that we can do to help the church reach and disciple more people through Sunday School.
4.We can start new units. On average, our Sunday School attendance will be about 10 people for every class we offer. Some classes will average less than 10 and some more, but in the big picture the ratio is about 10 people for every class. Even last year, we started a new class and our average attendance has risen by nine in average attendance. Starting new classes is our part and we trust that God will do His part as He blesses our visits and calls.
5. We can provide more space. You can only get 12 eggs in a one dozen egg carton. A class can only grow to a certain level based on the available space in the room. To grow our Sunday School we have to provide rooms to make it happen. Providing more space may involve getting creative with the space we have, it may mean utilizing another time-slot or it may mean building more space. When a church is using every available room for Sunday School, it is already out of space and needs to look for the right plan of action to provide space for future growth.
6. We can train teachers and Sunday School leaders to be more effective in reaching and discipling people. A sharp ax can chop more wood than a dull one. As we encourage and help our teachers to grow in people skills, communication skills, Bible knowledge and good, healthy Sunday School practices, they can be more effective in doing the work of the church. The health of our Sunday is directly related to the health of our Sunday School, and the health of our Sunday School is directly related to the character and skills of our teachers.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon