Nearly five years ago, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) formed a task force of convention staff and associational leaders to move Sunday School to the forefront of the BGCO’s efforts to revitalize and strengthen Oklahoma churches. From that effort came ReConnect Sunday School.
The first task was to define Sunday School—”Sunday School is the church’s primary strategy to connect people to Jesus, His Truth, His Community, and His Mission.” Notice how encompassing this strategy is; it is not single faceted. This strategy truly connects all the dots of the Great Commission.
Why did the BGCO choose to put so much work and effort into Sunday School (or small group ministry)? First, because the overwhelming majority of our churches already have an organized Sunday School. Second, we have discovered through the years that small group ministry is the most effective way to connect people and keep them connected. Attending worship gives a person very few connection points, and they can float in and out of the church with little commitment or engagement. Sunday School connects people and brings accountability and ministry.
One of the things the task force seeks to address is making Sunday School the outreach arm of the church. In many of our churches, Sunday School clearly had become a place for Bible study and fellowship with little effort to reach or engage people in mission. The first and consistent push of this strategy has been to reconnect Sunday School to evangelism. Sunday School is, above all things, organized to reach people with the Gospel and connect them to Jesus.
This fall, the convention’s effort to ignite a move of evangelism through Sunday School takes a new thrust through Connect>1. In a collaborative effort with LifeWay Christian Resources, the BGCO’s task force developed a focused effort to engage Sunday School classes in praying for, inviting, and sharing with people who do not know Christ.
The plan is simple and is called the “3151 Challenge.” Every member of the Sunday School is asked to pray for three (3) lost people, learn one (1) simple Gospel presentation, invite five (5) people to Sunday School, and share the Gospel at least one (1) time. To expand this evangelism initiative, LifeWay invited Blake Gideon, pastor of Edmond, First, to write the Bible Studies for Life Sunday School lessons for fall 2016 based on the “3151 Challenge.” This is an outstanding series of lessons that will be studied by 1.2 million people in Sunday Schools across the nation.
But the “3151 Challenge” can be used by your Sunday School classes whether you use the Bible Studies for Life curriculum or not. Your pastor has received information about the “3151 Challenge.” The BGCO has all the materials needed, and these resources are available to every BGCO church. I urge you to encourage your church to be a part of Connect>1 and utilize the “3151 Challenge” this fall.
I would like to thank Bob Mayfield, BGCO Sunday School specialist, and our BGCO task force for preparing such a powerful tool for reaching people for Jesus. The Connect>1 “3151 Challenge” will be used by 14 other state conventions this fall. This is just one example of your Cooperative Program dollars and the Oklahoma State Missions Offering at work. Thanks for giving, and may the fruit of your giving result in many coming to Christ because Sunday School once again prioritizes connecting people to Jesus.