While working on my doctorate in 2005, I took a seminar in conjunction with Willow Creek’s Small Group conference. One interesting revelation surfaced during an interview with Rex Minor, the Executive Director for Willow Creek Community Church at that time. As a result of focus groups that the church conducted, evangelism was identified as the weakest aspect of most Willow small groups. Sunday School has been called the outreach arm of Southern Baptist churches. The truth is that evangelism is the weakest aspect of most Sunday School classes.
A vision to fulfill the Great Commission is imperative for small groups or Sunday School classes:
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 ignore the plight of the unsaved.
Why do some Sunday school classes fail? Why do some small groups fail? They fail when group members turn inward and begin to function for their own welfare. Unprepared teachers, members who talk about “my class, my room, my teacher, my friends, my, my, my,” and an ineffective organization keep churches from reaching the “fields that are white unto harvest.”
It is imperative that Sunday School and Small Groups keep the main thing, the main thing.