Posted on November 1, 2017 2:51 PM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
The Engage24 Workshop was conducted last month (October 2017) at Liberty Heights Baptist. One of the speakers was Ken Whitton who was mentored by the late Adrian Rogers at Bellevue Baptist in Memphis. Ken said, “The 100 most important members of your church are those who are not yet followers of Jesus.”

Intentional evangelism requires walking among new people – and the Cincinnati Area is full of them. Jesus said to Andrew and Simon, “I’ll make you fishers of men.” With one million people around here not claimed by any religious organization, the fishing is great!
Align with God to witness among those who you talk with, encounter in your routine, and give yourself permission to address. To really impact Cincinnati’s culture, we must begin to disciple our members to do different things, travel in different circles, and become intentional in their witness.
It's been said that a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out!
You hit the target where you aim—or at least get close. Ready-Aim-Fire is not a bad evangelism strategy. It beats Ready-Ready-Ready or even Fire-Aim-Ready!
I’m sure your church members are wearing you out whining about our societal ills and moral decay in our culture.
Yet, why do things rarely change in our churches? Why is it that church schedules don’t allow for stopping to do something to address spiritual transformation?
The new mission statement for CABA is a game-changers to go after lostness. We’re now budgeting, staffing, and providing help to pastors through networking, coaching, and church planting.
1.    Networks: Ten zones have been formed to help pastors have fellowship, encouragement, and support. Josh Carter is taking the lead.
2.    Coaching: Brad Cunningham, pastor, Liberty Heights, and Doug Sibcy, pastor, Impact, are taking the lead to provide coaching.
3.    Church Planting: I’m taking the lead to help churches multiply themselves through unfunded church planting using church members, bi-vocational pastors, and using multi-site methods.
Change for the sake of change is scary and dangerous. Bringing change that glorifies Jesus brings transformation to a pastor’s ministry and a church’s effectiveness. And let us never forget in the meantime, that it’s worth it because those 100 most important members of your church are still out there.
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership (DOM) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association (CABA).
Posted on October 31, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Once a pastor stepped out during the Sunday School hour for a breath of fresh air to find a teacher and her preschoolers class of running through the grass, holding paper streamers over their heads.  The teacher continued to shout, “God made the wind!  Boys and girls, God made the wind!”  There is a teacher who understands the need to illustrate a point in her Bible teaching.

No matter the age range of your class, there is an obvious need to illustrate the Bible truths you are teaching.  Illustrations are windows that allow your students to see into the truth you are trying to communicate.  We want our people to remember what we teach them.  They are much more likely to remember a story or object lesson, so teachers know they must illustrate!  Here are a few thoughts to consider.

The more of the five senses you can use in an illustration, the better.  Many people think of illustrations as stories a speaker uses to drive home a point.  Of course, a good story told by a good story teller can be very effective, but that method of illustrating only uses the sense of hearing.  Imagine how much more effective an illustration becomes when you use other senses.  You may use a visual to show the size of a mustard seed in relation to other seeds.  You could even drop one seed into the hands of your audience and allow them to see and feel it.  You might even find various pictures that could show the development of the mustard seed into a large plant.  As more of the senses are used, the more likely your point will be remembered.

One teacher actually lit up a small propane torch in class to illustrate to adults how words can be used to scorch and burn the lives of others.  You know he had their attention!  A youth teacher regularly video tapes himself in humorous roles or uses the “man on the street” approach of interviewing people to illustrate major points of the lesson.  Children’s teachers will frequently use various kinds of foods to illustrate a Bible truth such as heart-shaped cookies to illustrate love or fish-shaped crackers to remind the children of a particular Bible story.  One teacher used a spray bottle to simulate the sea mist while teaching.  Preschool teachers will select specific toys for the children or decorate the room in a certain way to help them illustrate a Bible thought.  The point is that an illustration can be so much more than a story or quote you found in a book.

The more fresh and creative the illustration is, the better.  Using a Shakespeare quote may be effective in some settings, but having the class use a lump of clay to form an object that is often related to a temptation, maybe better.  Reading an illustration out of an illustration book may be fine, but it might be better to offer the class copies of the local newspaper and then tell them to find stories that demonstrate moral failure.  Sharing what you heard a radio preacher say one time may communicate your point, but having the class-members act out a scene from the gospels might leave a greater impact, simply because it is more memorable.

The more you vary your illustrative methods, the better.  Use video one week and try drama the next.  Use case studies one Sunday and then try a craft project the next.  It doesn’t take long for a certain method to become dry and predictable.  The more you vary your approach to illustrating the Bible, the more likely the class is to remember what you are teaching.  It takes a lot of work to come up with good ways of illustrating God’s Word.  But remember that boredom is one of the greatest enemies of the Sunday School lesson, and illustrations are one of the most effective weapons against it. 

Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors First Baptist, So. Lebanon.

Posted on October 27, 2017 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
The human body needs a skeleton to give it structure and strength.  In the same way every Bible study lesson needs some kind of structure to help the teacher deliver the body of material he or she is presenting.  Here are some thoughts on developing those main thoughts or points:
First, we must be sure our major thoughts are based upon the text we are teaching.  Have you ever listened to someone talk, and you were certain that you knew what they were about to say before they finished their sentence?  If you were hasty, you might even cut them off and finish the thought for them, only to find out, that they were not saying what you thought they were.  Have you ever listened to someone share a thought and later find out that you took their comment entirely different than they intended?  Communication can truly be a difficult task.  
As we read and study the Bible it is easy to read our thoughts into a passage.  We may even find ourselves teaching an idea that the text does not intend at all.  One time I was developing a sermon that was focused on the phrase that is repeated in Isaiah stating, “His hand is stretched out still.”  My first thoughts were that of a compassionate God who was still reaching out to receive His hurting children.  After further study, I discovered that the phrase actually referred to God’s hand of judgment being stretched out over a stubborn nation of rebellious children.  I was about to teach the text incorrectly due to reading my thoughts into the text.  I cringe at the thought of misrepresenting God’s Word in such a way.  This is why proper study of the text is essential before we completely develop our major thoughts or points that we wish to teach.  It is very easy for us to read our thoughts into a Bible text.
Second, teaching points need to be clear and understandable.  Be sure your points are on the correct age-level for your pupils.  Even in adult classes you need to assume your students have not studied as much as you have.  Have you ever walked away from the doctor’s office or a mechanic’s garage scratching your head because he uses terms you do not use every day?  Every profession has its own lingo.  Sunday School teachers can get accustomed to using “churchy” words as well.  Be sure the main points are easy to understand as you prepare your lesson.   Someone has said that a scholar can make simple truths sound complicated, but a good communicator can make complicated truths sound simple.  Go for simple—strive to be a good communicator who happens to know his Bible well.  
Third, consider making your main points statements of action or dynamic life principles.  Some teachers are very accustomed to using a teaching outline like we learned in high school speech class.  We might outline the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:1-34 using, 1) The Reason for the Council; 2) The Reports during the Council; 3) The Resolution from the Council.  Many teachers and preachers, however, are enjoying using an outline that is more application driven, such as, 1) When disagreements arise among believers, we need to work hard to find God’s solutions; 2) Really listening to people who walk closely with Christ can bring resolution to a conflict; 3) Finding God’s solution to a conflict brings great reward and encouragement. 
A more principle-driven outline can also be useful, such as, 1) A growing church is not free of difficulties; 2) Real solutions to conflict are biblical and center on the needs of people; 3) When addressing conflict, stay focused on grace.  Whatever way you choose to word your main points, make sure your statements are easy to remember and easy to apply to the lives of your people.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on October 18, 2017 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
One well-known pastor speaks of listening to sermons most of his life.  He even took notes on the messages.  He often would take down the main points of a Bible teacher’s lesson and next to the point write “YBH” (Yes, but how?).  As a young man this pastor discovered that much of the teaching he heard spoke of living a proper Christian life, but very little of it told him how to do so in practical ways.  
Many of your students may be able to tell you the names of the 12 apostles after you have worked hard on teaching them, but will they be able to resist temptation, speak kindly to an enemy or share the gospel with a friend?  Learning Bible facts is very important, but we should remember that the Pharisees knew a lot of Bible facts while missing the fact that God in human flesh was standing right in front of them.  Below are some thoughts that may help you develop application of the teaching points you share each Sunday in class.  
Try to practice empathy with those you teach and apply the truth appropriately.  Try to understand their frame of reference.  If you teach sixth graders, try to understand their world and feel what they feel.  If you teach high school girls, try to think about what they are experiencing at school and at home.  The more you understand your pupils, what they need and what they are facing, the easier it is to apply God’s Word to their lives.  
Ask yourself “yes, but how” questions as you prepare your lesson.  Maybe you are teaching young adults that it is important to train their children in the ways of the Lord.  That’s good, but it is even better if you can explain to them in practical terms, how they can do that.  Maybe you are teaching teens that they don’t have to give in to peer-pressure.  That’s great, but how can they resist the temptation?  As a teacher, you need to look for real answers in God’s Word that will help them to answer the tough questions.
Ask yourself “perspective” questions as you make a certain teaching point.  You may be teaching about the importance of the local church.  To make application you might think about how this point fits into the life of a faithful Christian, a very busy family member, a struggling doubter, an unsaved visitor or a hurting person.  Suddenly you are able to begin to shape application points that will fit the perspectives of the various people in your class.
Make your application thoughts as positive and encouraging as you can.  Guilt-trip applications seem to have lost some of their effectiveness in recent years (if they ever were effective).  Guilt application lasts a while, but when people see the benefits of an application, they are more likely to continue it.  People are much more responsive to application that helps them see the blessings of following the ways of God and the practical ways they can walk in obedience to God’s truth.  
Your people are also much more likely to respond to well-worded applications of Bible truths.  To say, “Your walk with God is pretty lame if you don’t pray every day,” may feel good to get off your chest, but it might not be the best way to get people to pray.  But to explain to a working mother with three very active preschoolers that she might try keeping a basic prayer list in her car, and that she could use that list to guide her thoughts before she enters her place of work, could prove to be very helpful.  She is much more likely to respond to practical steps rather than trying to deal with the guilt of adding one more thing to her very active life.  
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on October 17, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
There was a Southern Preacher that once preached a message about the resurrection.  The title of the message was “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a Comin.’”  I often will quote that title around the house and adjust it to the day of the week.  It reminds me that I need to stay at it because Sunday is a comin’!  It is amazing how quickly Sunday comes around when you are a Sunday School teacher.  Preparing the lesson is a task that requires some diligent work.  Today we look at some practical questions that might help as you prepare for the lesson you will teach.
What does the text say?  As we study the Bible for lesson preparation, it is important to have some paper and a pencil or use a computer program that will allow us to record our thoughts.  As we teach, we want to teach out of what the Lord has taught us in our personal study.  Using a quarterly or commentary is helpful later on, but first, we want God to speak to our hearts through the text.  Many teachers find it helpful to simply read the text several times, allowing the passage to penetrate their thoughts.  You may also wish to read the text in several translations and note subtle differences that may help you understand the intention of the writer.
What is the background and the context of the book my passage is in?  A good study Bible can help you get a good overview of the author’s intent as he writes the book of the Bible in which your text appears.  For example, it is good to know that Timothy is serving as a pastor as Paul writes to him in the books of First and Second Timothy.  It is helpful to know that the book of First Corinthians is written to correct the improper behavior of the Christians in the church at Corinth.  It is helpful to know that Deuteronomy is made up primarily of Moses’ farewell speeches to the Hebrews. 
When we see a text in light of the book in which it appears, it adds light to the passage.
What comes before and after the text?  Just reading a chapter or two before and after the text, can help you understand what is truly being said, and help you avoid misrepresenting a text of scripture.  You will also need this information later when you introduce the lesson, so jot down what you learn.  For example, 1 Corinthians 13 is about love, but the context is a church at war with itself.  That is helpful to know, especially in the application of the passage.
Are there words and phrases that I am unsure about?  You can write down parts of the text that you don’t fully understand.  For example, if you are studying John 3 you might write down questions about the text such as, “Why does Jesus say “we” and “our” in verse 11?”  “What does it mean to be born of water and of the Spirit?”  “What’s the Old Testament passage that Jesus refers to in verse 14?”  You will likely accumulate quite a list after many readings. 
You may not find answers to all your questions, but this process will deepen your understanding of the text.  Later when you go to the quarterly, a commentary or a Bible dictionary, you may discover some of the answers to your questions and have many great insights to share with your class.  This will give you confidence in your teaching and prepare you for those unexpected questions in class.
Are there other places in the Bible that might teach some of the same ideas and truths?  Here the use of a concordance or a Bible software program can be very helpful.  You can cross-reference words and phrases and find out how they are used in other passages.  If humility is a key thought in your text, you may find many other verses to shed light on your text, deepening your understanding of the truth being taught.  The goal is to be true to the text and allow God to speak His truth through you.  May He bless you as you study and prepare to teach the Word.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on October 4, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Those who run races tell us that two keys to victory are how one starts and how one finishes.  I can remember a choir director saying, “The most important parts of the choir special is how we start and how we finish.  People will remember the song most by these two things.”  Something similar can be said of the effectiveness of the Sunday School lesson.  The teacher’s introduction and conclusion require thought and prayerful preparation.  Below are some thoughts for consideration.
The goal of the introduction is to capture the attention and create curiosity.  Most teachers find that a striking quote or a story related to the topic of the lesson can be most helpful in catching the attention of the hearers.  Even humor will draw people in to listening to what it is you are about to teach.  Sometimes a well worded question is a great beginning.  In younger classes a game, a story or an activity related to the lesson helps to capture the interest of the child and makes him want to listen.  Before we can effectively teach, we need the attention of the people.  Providing a good introduction gets attention so you can move easily to the meat of the lesson.
The introduction often ties a series of lessons together.  Often one lesson builds on the previous one, so most teachers want to introduce the series or tie the lessons together to help students understand how the lessons relate to one another.  Making use of a poster or some other visual aid can be helpful as Bible learners see how today’s lesson relates to the whole unit of study.
Introductions will also involve giving the background for the passage that is being studied.  Explaining what is going on before and after the text and setting it in its proper framework in the Bible helps the pupil gain a proper understanding of the passage and protects her from taking the passage out of context.  Proper interpretation of a passage is impossible if it is not seen in relationship to where it appears in the book it is a part of and even how the book itself relates to the whole Bible.
The introduction also helps the learner to understand why the passage is important in relation to his life.  It answers the question, “Why is it important that I give this teacher my attention.”  It allows the pupil to see why this passage of God’s Word is important for a sixth grader or a mother of preschoolers (for example) to understand.  In other words, the introduction helps the student see her needs and circumstances in relationship to the scripture that is being studied.
The goal of the conclusion is to tie the main points together and call the listeners to take action.  A good conclusion engages the mind, the emotions and the will.  It answers the question, “What do I need to do now in light of what I have just learned.”  For children the conclusion may only involve one main idea and the teacher will drive that home to the child’s heart at the end of the lesson with a story, a song, an activity or a simple statement.  For adults and teens, the teacher may have several steps of action as the lesson is summarized and applied.  When the lesson is over, the learners should be able to clearly see the next steps needed to live this passage out.
The methods of the conclusion will depend upon the age of the students and the preferences of the teacher, but the function of the conclusion is still the same.  People need to leave the classroom challenged to make the appropriate changes in their lives in order to line up their lives to the truth they have heard from the Word of God.  They’ll know what to do and how to do it.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastor of FBC So. Lebanon, Ohio
Posted on September 19, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
As a teacher of the Word of God it is no doubt that you have begun to establish certain beliefs and convictions based upon the Word of God.  It is also certain that your biblical beliefs and convictions will guide you in your personal stands and decisions on political issues.  As a Sunday School teacher, it is also imperative that we create an atmosphere in the classroom in which people of all political persuasions can hear the gospel and be reached and discipled for Christ.  Finding good balance can be difficult, but absolutely necessary, especially during seasons of political emphasis.  I hope the following will help us walk this difficult tightrope.
First, we should distinguish between political and moral issues.  It is easy to fall into a trap these days.  The politician refuses to take a clear stand on an issue because it is considered a “personal moral issue,” while church leaders are afraid to make statements because the issue is considered “political” in nature.  Clearly there is a difference between abortion, for example, and how much is spent on public radio.  Every issue is not a deep moral issue.  Even well-respected Bible heroes had differing opinions at times and we need to allow for that in our discussions as well.
God has worked through various forms of government for millennia and He has not specified which American political party is His favorite.   The Bible is clear, however, on the value of human life, on honesty, corruption, homo-sexuality, adultery, compassion for widows, etc.  As Bible teachers, we cannot shirk our responsibility to teach what the Bible says about such things, including demonstrating proper respect for those in positions of government authority.
Second, as we teach on sensitive issues, it is important to do so in love and humility.  I’m not suggesting the “political correctness” of today’s media needs to be applied to the Sunday School class, but it is important to realize that someone in your class may be dealing with the pain and guilt of a past abortion.  Someone in your class may have a close relative that has chosen an immoral lifestyle.  It simply is an act of kindness to avoid slang terms that are needlessly offensive when teaching God’s truth on a potentially painful topic.
It is also important that our church is not seen as endorsing a certain candidate for office.  The mission of the church is to reach and disciple people for Christ, not to promote a political ideology.   We will speak truth regardless of the consequences, but it is important to know that there are laws in place that threaten our tax-exempt status if we practice political endorsements.  We can provide comparisons on the issues, but we cannot endorse the candidate.  Throughout Bible times, believers learned to deal with various forms and practices of government without compromising the message, and we need to do the same today.
For me the biggest issue is evangelism.  As we teach the group God has entrusted to us, we want everyone in attendance to know that we are there to learn God’s Word and deepen our relationship with Him.  It is certain that some will want to talk politics at times, but it really isn’t that difficult to get the class back on track when the people hear a gentle reminder of what we are really there to do.  We want everyone to know our Lord Jesus Christ regardless of their political preferences and we as teachers are responsible to “keep the main thing, the main thing!”
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh. 
Posted on September 12, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Last weekend we had the delight of hosting a Children’s Ministry Conference with author Steve Parr as our keynote speaker.  Brother Parr and Tom Crites have done extensive research on adults 26 through 39 to discover why some young adults stay connected to a church family and some do not.  His book is entitled, Why They Stay.  Dr. Parr discovered 15 key reasons that people stay connected to the church as young adults, but he shared with our conferees six takeaways from his research I thought I would share today.
Takeaway One: Mom and Dad demonstrate priorities by serving at church.  Our kids are over 50% more likely to stay in church as young adults if they see their parents involved in a ministry at church.  “Do as I say, not as I do,” is not a good strategy for keeping young adults involved in the church.  Notice, simply attending with parents is good, but when children see their parents serving, it makes all the difference.
Takeaway Two: Love for the Pastor.  This one amazed me.  The research shows that 90% of the nearly 1400 surveyed, were more likely to stay if they liked their pastor while growing up.  A pastor’s influence on a child’s life was much more of a factor than I imagined.  I suppose it also speaks to how well church members protect the pastor’s reputation in family discussions in front of their children.
Takeaway Three: A High View of Scripture.  If we believe the Bible is inspired of God, it makes a difference in how we live.  It also makes a difference in how the next generation will live!  A church that has a low view of the Bible will lose the next generation.  The church is not doing itself any favors by lowering biblical standards.  Clearly, a church with a low view of Scripture is setting itself up for a gradual death.
Takeaway Four: Attending Worship Services with Their Parents When Growing Up.  When children see their parents worshiping God, it impacts their lives.  When kids see dad listening to the sermon, they believe it must be important.  When they hear mom singing to the Lord, they also want to sing.  Here’s the kicker—20-30 years later, they are still likely to be worshiping due to the influence of their parents.
Takeaway Five: Spiritual Fuel During Adolescence.  Young adults are more likely to be in church if they attended a church with a vibrant student ministry.  That does not mean the church was large and had a full-time youth minister.  It does mean the church had good leaders who invested themselves into the lives of teenagers.  The teen years are years of great importance that have lasting ramifications.
Takeaway Six: The Six Months Following Graduation are Crucial.  The research shows that 60% of those that strayed did so between ages 18-22 and 33% were more likely to have stayed if their home church had a ministry directed toward college students.  Staying connected to our graduating high school students is critical for their future involvement in the church.  Even those who go away to college benefit greatly from cards, letters and gifts sent from their home church.
I’m grateful we are a church of all generations, but we have a deliberate focus on reaching and discipling the next generation.  These takeaways from Dr. Parr are crucial to our success in getting the job done.  Regardless of age, most adult Christians are burdened to see their children and grandchildren become faithful followers of Jesus.  That is why we are willing to make the investment of time, energy and resources to see them come to Christ.  If we see the need to give great effort to see that they have healthy food, proper clothing, and the best education, then surely, we can see the need to provide the best possible church experience for those that will one day be leading the church and advancing the kingdom of God.  May God bless our efforts.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh. 
Posted on September 11, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
I Love You and Other No-No's
Appropriate Behavior with Children and Teens
It may surprise many people to know that lawyers have conferences that they attend regularly to help them with various legal issues and processes.  One topic in such a conference amazed me.  The conference was entitled, “How to Sue the Church Successfully.”  What may also be surprising is that no one seems to want to define what behavior is appropriate and inappropriate.  The following is an attempt at putting some of this in perspective and providing church policies for us to follow.
•             When you hug another person, use the “A Frame” approach.  It may sound silly, but that is a hug that basically touches near the shoulders, but avoids contact with the rest of the body.  A side to side hug works pretty well too.  It conveys love without appearing inappropriate.
•             While we are on the topic of hugging, never require someone to hug you.  It sounds innocent to say, “None of you preschoolers get out of this door without a hug.”  But such a statement can be misunderstood by a preschooler and anyone else for that matter.  Your motive can be pure enough, but the appearance can be evil to many people.  Of course, if the preschooler initiates the hug, that is fine and in that case be an “equal opportunity hugger.”
•             Avoid saying, “I love you” in any way that could be misinterpreted as romantic in nature.  One good way to say it is, “We love you, Ben,” or “I love all of you fifth-graders,” or “Terri and I love you.” (That last one only works if your wife’s name is Terri, by the way.)  The same kind of message should be conveyed through letters, emails and text messages.
•             Never allow yourself to be alone with a member of the opposite gender behind a closed door that doesn’t have a window in it—and even with a window, you need to have a very good reason to be alone in the room.  Keep a desk or other piece of furniture between you and the other person, as well.  Don’t let even the suspicion of evil ruin your reputation and destroy your potential in ministry.
•             Don’t play “tickle games” with children.  This is actually a tactic that child molesters use to cover up a child’s objections or to lead to other inappropriate touching.  If you are a parent or sibling it is one thing to tickle a child, but if you are a nursery worker or a children’s teacher at church, it is not appropriate.
•             Don’t take children to the restroom alone.  Simply ask another adult to go in with you, or, if you can do so while protecting the child’s modesty, leave the door ajar.
•             Avoid driving someone home without your spouse or another person in the car.  You might be surprised at how difficult this might be to explain others.  If you are stuck in such a situation, call someone on the phone while you are driving so you can have them “in the car with you” at least electronically.
•             Do not usurp the authority of a child’s parents.  If you go behind a parent’s back and give a gift to a minor, it can easily be taken as inappropriate.  Swearing a minor to keep a secret from his parents is never a good idea.  If you cannot say it to the parents, don’t say it to the child.  If you do ever see a parent neglect or abuse a child, you are legally obligated to report it to the appropriate authorities.     
Because crimes against minors are so publicized in our society, even the appearance of evil must be avoided in the church.  1 Thessalonians 5:22 states, “Abstain from every appearance of evil.”  That is why it is so important for us to have some common-sense policies in place when working with children (and even adults) while at church.  Just the accusation can cause great damage to our work for Christ, whether it is true or not.  Just to clarify, these are not just suggestions!  These are policies of our church and each of us are legally and morally responsible to follow them.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Diciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC South Lebanon, Ohio
Posted on August 29, 2017 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
I once had the experience of ministering to a couple.  The husband had a serious illness.  The wife asked me not to share the information with the church family.  Reluctantly, I agreed to tell our people they would be back in church soon, but they were taking a little break.  The couple attended fairly frequently, but they never came to Sunday School.  Several months later, the husband died.  Because the couple was not plugged into a small group in our church, I was the only one to visit in the hospital and only a handful of church members came to the funeral.  The lady was hurt that the church had not taken more interest in her plight and she quickly became an inactive Christian.  It was sad.
Over my years in ministry I have learned what research clarifies.  When a person attends worship services only, it is easy for them to get lost in the crowd and miss out on the important ministry of a small group.  They easily feel disconnected and soon fade away from the church.
Small group ministry is clearly a biblical ministry concept.  We see in Acts that the small groups of the New Testament church were held in houses before the church had the benefit of the nice buildings we enjoy today.  In the Bible, small groups were important in meeting the practical needs of the congregation.  Jethro helped Moses see value in breaking up his ministry into small groups.  Nehemiah understood that the construction of the protective wall around Jerusalem needed to be organized into small groups.  When Jesus feed the 5,000, he broke the people up into smaller groups to expedite the ministry (Luke 9).  When a church organizes itself in small groups, like Sunday School classes, it is following a biblical pattern of ministry.
As a church grows larger, it must also grow smaller.  LifeWay’s recent research showed that four out of five new members will be inactive in five years if they do not join a small group.  People make friends, or they “make tracks!”  The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association says that generally, new converts who do not make seven to twelve new friends in the church within six months of their conversion, will not continue to attend.  It is difficult to make that many new friends in the worship service, alone. 
Small Group/Sunday School ministry is designed to meet the practical needs of the people.  The “one another’s” (see John 13:34, Rom. 15:4, 1 Cor. 12:25, Eph. 4:32, etc.) of the New Testament are best carried out in the context of small groups.  In Acts 12, Peter miraculously escaped from prison.  When he was freed, he went to John Mark’s home to find that a small group was praying for his release.  That’s what small groups do!  Ephesians 4:11-12 remind us that pastors equip the church members, so we all can do the ministry together.  Small groups organize the church to carry out that biblical plan of ministry.
Small groups help protect us from backsliding (Jer. 3:14).  In the book, Transformational Small Groups by Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger, they site research from nearly 3,000 Christians that show that people in Sunday School or small groups are significantly more likely to read their Bibles, pray for others, attend worship, tithe their income and minister to other people.  Christians involved in small groups are more apt to demonstrate those actions of a true disciple of Jesus.  Friends, I have seen too many families endure much heartache from alcoholism, drug overdose and divorce.  I realize that going to Sunday School does not guarantee that these things will never strike a Christian’s home, but it certainly does give them a better shot at being successful.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.