One of my favorite television shows is “Overhaulin,” in which the producers look for old, beat-up, classic cars to use on the show. These cars are loved by their owners. The producers work with friends and family to confiscate the car and then, through elaborate schemes, keep the owner at bay for one week while the car is totally overhauled.
Most of the cars are in really bad shape. Some have arrived at their present condition through neglect; others have been abused. In all cases, the owners have plans to overhaul and restore the cars to former glory. Money, time, and ability prohibit the owners from turning rust and dents into a sleek machine.
In rides Chip Foose and his A Team, who have the ability to do wonders with these old junkers. This team repairs, replaces and restyles the cars into beautiful works of art. When a car is complete and the big reveal takes place, the owners are brought to tears. Old classics become new classics, with tons of modern conveniences and pizzazz, running and looking better than the day they were driven off the lot.
I am committed to the fact that the greatest opportunity for our churches to impact lostness in their communities is through a vibrant and dynamic Sunday School. Sunday School is the primary strategy available to our churches to connect people to Jesus, His truth, His community and His mission. But many of our Sunday Schools look like the old classic cars before Chip Foose gets hold of them. Through neglect and abuse, our Sunday Schools are sick, and look like a classic car that one must decide to overhaul or junk.
With rare exception, our churches have Sunday Schools—they may be called connection groups, fellowship groups, flocks or Bible study groups. Unfortunately, some Sunday Schools have had little attention in many years, and have lost their cutting edge. Frankly, the motor is running pretty rough. Years ago, we stopped working Sunday School, and now we wonder why Sunday School doesn’t work.
Well, it’s time for an overhaul! Sunday School is a strategy, not a program. It is the primary strategy of the local church to impact lostness. The fact that many of our Sunday Schools are not growing does not invalidate the model. Now is the time to take Sunday School apart, rebuild it on a solid frame, and put a new engine in and new skin on it. Sunday School is the church organized to reach people with the Gospel.
Today, people come to worship and can attend for years without connecting with others in a meaningful way. They have no interaction and personal investment. These individuals can face crisis, drop by the wayside and no one knows. When we organize people and make connection points, relationships are built. These relationships translate into ministry to one another and an opportunity for koinonia (deep and abiding fellowship).
Sunday School will not thrive when it is neglected. I believe it is time to overhaul Sunday School in your church by giving attention to the leaders and materials studied, as well as focusing on reaching people with the Gospel. These things will not happen without intentional effort.
Bob Mayfield, BGCO Sunday School specialist, has led a team of leaders to develop ReConnect. ReConnect is all about overhaulin’ Sunday School so it becomes a dynamic force for Christ. ReConnect provides models for developing a renewed and refreshed Sunday School in each church.
Is it worth the effort? Well, consider that for every new Sunday School group started, your church’s attendance will increase by 10 people. Or consider that when lost people are involved in Sunday School, one in three will become believers.
It’s time to overhaul Sunday School! It is time to reach people for Christ! Start now.