MOORE—Sunday School—and resulting church—growth  occurs in circles, not rows, keynote speaker Doyle Pryor told those attending a regional ReConnect Sunday School Clinic at Moore, First, Aug. 16.

The clinic was held in conjunction with the Central Oklahoma Ministry Enrichment (COME) event sponsored by Capital and Union associations, which attracted a total of 372 registrants, volunteers and presenters. Training was made available for church staff, leadership and teachers of all age groups.

Pryor, pastor of Norman, Bethel, spoke during lunch, highlighting the ministry philosophy of Jesus Christ and the importance of Christ followers making connections with each other.

“When Jesus began his ministry, he made a small group! When Jesus wanted to make disciples, he used a small group!” Pryor declared, stressing the importance of relationship, evangelism and discipleship.

He added that a person doesn’t grow by sitting passively in a row (pew) in church through a worship service, and then going home and not allowing the experience to affect his or her life.

“You don’t grow in a row, you grow in a circle. Circles are better than rows,” he declared. “At the end of the day, spiritual and personal growth doesn’t happen by sitting in a row and listening to a sermon. That’s why we’re serious about getting people into relationships; that’s why we’re starting new groups this year, because we realize disciples are not made in rows, they’re made in circles.”

Pryor explained that by sharing life with others in a small group, people experience:

• Application.

• A Sense of Belonging.

• A Sense of Care.

• A Feeling of Accountability to Someone.

“Jesus involves us in the process of ministry and life (Through a small group),” he said.

He used the illustration of Jesus’ call of Simon Peter as an apostle in Luke, chapter 5, when he and the other fishermen had toiled all night and failed to catch any fish.

Following the Lord’s orders, they caught a great number of fish.

“When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, ‘Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.’ For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.”

(Luke 5:8-10).

“Peter made his profession in a small group,” Pryor pointed out, sharing,

Four Takeaways we can apply:

• Jesus Met Simon Where He Was.

• The Road To Lordship Begins With Obedience.

• Circles Are Better Than Rows.

• The Call To Discipleship Always Involves Someone Else.”

Union Association Director of Missions Preston Collins said the COME event has been held for several years.

“It’s an annual training for church leaders, and Sunday School work is always at the core of that because we need to continually train new workers if we are going to start new units,” Collins said.

“This year with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) hosting regional ReConnect clinics, it was a natural fit for us to host one of them.”

Collins said the COME event in 2013 had an attendance of had 330. More than 25 percent (90) of this year’s crowd of 372 were Hispanics, according to BGCO Hispanic Ministry Specialist Daniel Caceres.

Five of the ReConnect breakout sessions were specifically aimed at Hispanic age groups.

Breakout session topics included, “Strategies for Making Disciples,” “The 5-Step Formula for Sunday School Growth,” “Missional Millennials,” “Assimilation: How to Connect New People to Your Church,” “Teaching with Passion,” “Absolute Discipleship Necessity,” “Between Sunday Mornings: What Can a Preschool Teacher Do?,” “Hands-On Activities for Preschoolers,” “Using Preteens as Leaders,” “Children and Salvation,” and “The Three Roles for Guiding Groups.”