Everyone needs a Buddy…Enroll them in YOUR Class

WIN_20150630_173636Since December, my little puppy dog has become my little buddy. In the morning, he can’t wait to wake me up so he can express his loyalty and love. When I come home, he is always excited to see me. Bandit and I have connected.

Connected. I really believe that people have a deep desire to be connected to belong to a group. A group that would love them and accept them for who they are. I have been blessed with lots of friends but my best friends know me and love me despite my warts. When I first moved to Spring Hill eighteen years ago, I found these friends in my co-workers and my new Sunday School class at Thompson Station Church.

Bruce, Liz, Sue, Tim, and Jerry accepted me while I learned to lead a conference or to consult with a church in those first few years of denominational work. In Sunday School, we got connected with some great couples and Vance and Valerie have become two of my truest friends. As we started new groups, new couples were allowed into the circle of friendship and today, Chuck and Marlene and Greg and Karen were added as they began to search for a new group to get connected with.

One of the surprising things is that even in the church, there are many people attending worship but not connected to a group. Lifeway’s research on Transformational Groups discovered that those connected and participating in a group versus those that just attend worship: Read their Bible more, prayed more, confessed their sins more, shared the gospel more, gave more, and served more. All great reasons to invite someone to belong to your group today. Begin asking two questions in every worship attender, How long have you been attending “your’ church? And then the most important question, Have you gotten connected to a group?

If they haven’t gotten connected, invite them to belong to your group or connect them with the right group for their age or life stage. People need to get connected. Everyone needs a buddy!

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Chosen for a Reason!

IMG_1083Last October, my wife and I made the decision to look for a new puppy. A year earlier, we had lost our beloved Sprinkles after 15 great year of love and companionship. What a great dog and friend, Sprinkles had been to me, my wife and especially my daughters. There will never be another dog like Sprinkles. So kind and so loving and so loyal.

First, what kind of dog should we get? Sprinkles was a Shih Tzu. Our first dog as a couple who lived almost 18 years was a Cock-a-poo. And what a great dog, Bogart was. In fact, my dad would always say about Sprinkie-dink that he’s a good dog but he not’s Bogart. Our search began with reading about different breeds. We made the decision to stay with a small-medium size dog. My wife had some crazy love affair going for a Corgi, something about their cute ears.

The search began long after a longing and desire had sprung. One day during the summer, I almost brought home a little Shih Tzu but knew this was a decision that my wife should make together. After a search, we made our way to Shelbyville, Tennessee to check out a new litter of little Shih Tzu. One caught our attention, the breeder called him “Chocolate.” On the way home, my wife said, “I want him.” And our little “Bandit” was chosen.

In John 15:16, the Bible says that you did not choose me, but I chose you. Think about that, God chose me. He chose you.

John goes on to write, that I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. God chose us to bear fruit and he promises that he will provide anything that we need to produce fruit.

As a Sunday School leader, recognize that even before your church chose you and enlisted you to serve, God chose you. You and everyone of those that you teach and lead are fearfully and wonderfully made. They have been chosen to do good works. Your group members can change your church. They can change your community. The key is to see your class members not just as students but as missionaries who you are equipping to serve on a mission field.

Let’s START today…we were chosen for a purpose.

By Mark Miller, Sunday School Specialist, Tennessee Baptist Convention

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Sunday School Matters! (#START)

Yesterday, I attended Sunday School at Second Baptist Church in Union City. There were three things that happened in each class in this church and in classes all across Tennessee and the World.   The Bible was taught.  People were prayed for and with.  Members had fellowship with one another. SS

Wow, each week all across the world, people are being taught the word of God, prayed for, and having fellowship in Sunday School classes and small groups.  Groups Matters.  Sunday School matters. 

I am thankful for every teacher that has agreed to serve in Sunday School this year.  You matter!  Your faithfulness each Sunday will make a difference in the lives of the students that you teach. 

A few weeks ago, I was in Charlotte, NC and visited the Billy Graham Library.  [What a treat and an inspiration.  Thank you Billy Graham for allowing God to use you in a mighty way.] But you know that there might not have been a Billy Graham Evangelistic Organization without a Sunday School teacher.  In one of the exhibits, they list the following:

  • Sunday School teacher Edward Kimball helped lead Dwight L. Moody to Christ;
  • J. Wilbur Chapman was  influenced by Dwight L. Moody evangelistic meeting;
  • Billy Sunday worked  at a Chapman meeting;
  • Mordecai Ham was converted at Billy Sunday meeting;
  • and Billy Graham was converted at a Ham meeting.

The powerful influence of a Sunday School teacher.  You matter and Sunday School matters.

And when Sunday School classes choose to engage in actions outside of class for the sake of the Gospel.  It will matter even more. 

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Get OUTSIDE the walls of Your Classroom! (#START)

Jesus ministered to the outcasts and the unclean. Matthew states, “A leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed” Matthew 8:2-3.

Where did this account take place?

People need the LordJesus called to those who were vilified and rejected by society. In Matthew, “He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So Matthew got up and followed Him. While Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Him and His disciples.”

Where did this encounter take place?

Luke 7:36-39 tells how Jesus responded to an immoral woman who was condemned and criticized. “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching Him—she’s a sinner!” Jesus looked at the woman who had anointed his feet with oil and said “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Did this saving experience occur at the church?

Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus so he climbed a tree. When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and as the song says, “Zacchaeus, you come down for I am going to your house today.” Zacchaeus was a tax collector.

Where did this take place?

Who can forget the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman from John 4:5-10. Jesus, a Jew, witnessed to a woman. Jesus, a Jew, sharing a cup of water with a despised Samaritan. And where did it all take place? At a well.

None of these life changing encounters took place at the church. Jesus ministered to the outcasts, unclean, vilified, rejected, condemned, criticized, ostracized, and despised. And where did he meet them? In a house, on a road, at a well, in a tree. The harvest is not at the church. It is in the fields.

One song writer said it like this, “My house is full, but my field is empty. Who will come and work for me today? It seems my children all want to play around the table but no one wants to work in my field. No one wants to work in my field.”

It is time to start 1-5-1 Harvest Branch plants in the community. It is time for Sunday School Classes to move outside the walls of their classrooms.

Nothing happens unless and until we START! START is START_Logo_FINAL_BUTTONdesigned to help you move your classes to get outside the walls and into the harvest field. Contact me…I would love to dialogue with you about how START can re-energize your Sunday School.

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Encourage Evangelistic Relationships (#START)

One way jesusJesus built relationships with lost people. The religious leaders of Jesus day constantly complained about Jesus’ willingness to eat with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus explained that, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

We must follow Jesus’ example and build relationships with lost people. The other day I got lost. I knew that I was lost and kept turning on streets that I thought would get me where I needed to go. For a time, I was too prideful to call and admit that I was lost. But, I finally reached out to someone who gave me directions. In no time, I had arrived at my destination.

While I knew that I was lost, many lost people have no clue that they are lost. They don’t know that they need to reach out and call for directions. Increasingly, Americans are becoming ignorant of Christianity. They might feel empty and realize that something is missing but they don’t know Jesus is the answer that they are looking for.

These lost people are not coming to our churches. They are not in our Sunday School classes. But they will respond to a relationship. The Harvest is great but if believers don’t build a relationship with lost people, most will spend eternity in Hell.

Let’s START building relationships with lost people. Sunday School classes catch a vision that Sunday School is more than just a Bible study with friends and take actions to be engaged in a Harvest field for the sake of lost souls.  There truly is only ONE WAY to Heaven! Through a saving relationship with JESUS!

Nothing happens unless and until we START!

What is START? START is a practical and flexible approach to re-engerize your Sunday School.  Call me or email me. I would love to talk to you about START.



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My passion is Sunday School. Almost weekly, I will get a call from a pastor who says something like, my Sunday School is not growing…can you help?

eyeOver the years, I have responded to this question in many ways. Early on, it was to look at the numbers and challenge them to set goals for classes, enrollment, attendance, teachers, teacher being trained, and analyzing space. Lately, I have come to realize that nothing changes unless the pastor…the director…the staff…the teachers…and the members ultimately SEE Sunday School Differently.

START was originally planned to help churches lead their classes to catch a vision for planting 1-5-1 Harvest Branch plants. But in my opinion, it has become much more. It is a tool, a strategy, an emphasis to help you as a Pastor or Minister of Education lead your church to SEE Sunday School Differently.

This is why it is the first session of the training module. Few 1-5-1 Harvest Branch Plants are started unless your church sees Sunday School differently. Seldom do our Sunday School classes move outside the walls of the church to conduct mission projects unless they see their class differently. Most Sunday School classes have very little lost people in them. Why? because of how they see their Sunday School. Significant growth will not happen unless you lead your church to SEE Sunday School Differently.

The old adage says that as the Sunday School goes, so goes the church. How you see Sunday School will decide how the church goes?

Call me…email me….I would love to dialogue with you about Sunday School and how START can re-energize your Sunday School.


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We celebrate fathers this Sunday. And I can’t think of a better father than my DAD!  He truly STANDS TALL!

My wife and I had the privilege of watching a pre-screening of the movie, When the Game STANDS TALL*. In the movie, Coach Ladouceur states, “Winning a lot of football games is doable. Teaching kids there’s more to life? That’s hard!” My dad certainly taught me there was more to life than just earning a paycheck or winning a game.

My father taught me to win at life. Growing up, dad was the hardest worker that I knew. He got up early in the morning, loaded his Colonial Bread truck, and worked each evening until the work was done. When he retired, the local Sonic placed on their sign,  Dad 86th birthdaycongratulations to Mr. Colonial. Everyone in my small town, knew Dad had earned it. Today at 86, he still works hard taking care of the Laundromat he purchased when he retired. The willingness to work hard and to give it all you got are vital to winning at life. Thanks Dad for teaching me to work hard!

He served his church as the Sunday School Director for 35 years, earning multiple Eagle awards for growth. At night after a hard days work, he would read the latest Sunday School training books, Sunday School leadership magazine, and earned His Sunday School Leadership Diploma. He constantly participated in association, state, and national training events. He didn’t just give a Sunday School report on Sunday morning…he embraced serving and leading the church to grow through Sunday School. He stills attends his Sunday School class regularly. Thanks Dad for teaching me to importance of education and for my passion for Sunday School!

Dad loves his family. He demonstrates love to my mom every day even though some days she wonders where her husband is and what happened to him. Thanks Dad for teaching me to Love!

Thanks Dad for your example on how to win at life.

*When the Game STANDS TALL was inspired by a true story of Coach Bob Ladouceur and the DeSalle High School Football team. What an inspiring and encouraging film. Join me in praying that God will use this movie to touch the lives of young men and women all across our nation. It comes out in theatres on August 22.

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