My dad, who was Sunday School Director for my church, believed and shared with me that Sunday School is the Outreach Arm of the church. Is it really? Should it be?
Steve Pearson, the Evangelism strategist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, did a 25 year statistical analysis searching for the correlation of increased baptisms. He asked three questions:
1. When our Sunday School average attendance was up did that mean we would have more Baptisms?
2. When we started new churches did we see an increase in Baptisms?
3. How did Resident Membership affect Baptisms?
The greatest correlation between increased baptisms was Sunday School attendance. In fact, in the three years that TBC churches reported the greatest number of baptisms, the churches also reported the greatest number in Sunday School. In Effective Evangelism Churches, Thom Rainer discovered to his surprise that Sunday School was one of the most frequent evangelistic methods utilized by these churches.
A correlation does exist between Sunday School and Evangelism. But is Sunday School really the outreach, evangelistic arm of the church? Ken Hemphill wrote in Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur:
The Sunday School must be plugged into a passion for evangelism; otherwise, it will settle into the comfort zone of a maintenance organization. By ignoring the evangelistic potential of the Sunday School, we have reduced Sunday School to a stagnant pool of introverted groups that look primarily to their own needs and interests and ignores the plight of the unsaved.
Yes, Sunday School can and should be the outreach arm of the church. Reaching people for Christ is one of the tasks of the Sunday School. The next few blogs will examine the irreducible minimums of an evangelistic Sunday School.