This is part 3 of a series of posts from David Francis’ Transformational Class: Transformational Church Goes to Sunday School . Click here for a free download of the book, as well as training materials to help you present the material to your leaders.
Single Gender Classes on the Comeback
There’s an emerging trend that merits consideration in the peoplegrouping conversation. After decades in which coed classes dominated the scene in Sunday morning classes and weekday small groups, single gender classes are making a comeback. And not just among adults! One of the most consistently effective student Sunday Schools I know of has organized all its classes—for both middle and high schoolers—for girls and boys. In fact, because of tremendous growth coupled with lack of space, this thriving student ministry now meets in a school building.
Back to the Future: On Mission for Kids
I’ve become convicted that the Sunday School movement, through a church where it is properly understood and strategically implemented, can remain an effective missionary force. I also have a strengthened conviction that Sunday School needs to see a revival based on its missionary heritage. A heritage and history that continues to have kids at its center.
A disturbing trend among Sunday School and small group ministries over the past couple of decades is the emphasis placed on adult groups. The Sunday School movement started with an emphasis on kids, with adult classes coming later, partly in response to the question, “What do we do with the adults while the kids are learning?” Today that has—I believe unfortunately—switched. The question I hear pastors wrestling with now is “What do we do with the kids while the adults are enjoying their classes or small groups?” I think that’s the wrong question. In North America, we have two generations left (maybe) before the near extinction of orthodox, church-centered Christianity in Europe sweeps our own continent. Will it make a difference if your church decides to build a Sunday School fueled by a missionary mentality, focused on kids and their families? I don’t know. But I think it’s worth a try! Whether you actually call it Sunday School or ascribe a different label in your church, will you consider engaging in this historic and effective missionary enterprise with fresh fervor? Do you need to lead the way? Or simply follow well?
David Francis is Director of Sunday School at LifeWay Christian Resources. Before joining LifeWay in 1997, he served as minister of education at First Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. David and his wife, Vickie, love teaching preschool Sunday School and are helping start a new adult class in their church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.