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Strengthen: Small groups—backbone of the church

One of the great privileges of being the Equipping Team leader is the opportunity to serve on the ReConnect Sunday School Task Force.

The task force is made up of members from our Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) staff—including our Executive Director-Treasurer, Anthony L. Jordan—from numerous teams who focus on this vital ministry area found in the majority of churches. It is a privilege for me to participate in this task force because I believe in the small group strategy that we call Sunday School.

I believe in Sunday School educationally. I know from educational training that people learn and grow best in a small group setting versus a large gathering. When people attend worship services, they may be inspired and edified, but the small group is best suited for them to be equipped and engaged in Kingdom ministry. The vast majority of people I know who give evidence of a growing relationship with Christ are involved in a small group.

I believe in Sunday School pastorally. I had the privilege of pastoring churches in our state for almost 20 years, and I quickly learned that the Sunday School was the backbone of the church. Our Sunday School teachers and group members impacted people in ways that a pastor would never be able to. The group members ministered to each other and worked side-by-side on ministry opportunities in the church and community.

I believe in Sunday School evangelistically. I remember sitting in Jack Crow’s Sunday School class as a boy at Geronimo, First and hearing him regularly share the simple gospel message and ask if anyone wanted to be saved. Most of the boys in that group professed faith in Christ in a Sunday School class before they walked down the aisle in the worship service. The small group setting of Sunday School is a great place for the Gospel to be shared and for group members to be equipped to share the Gospel.

Sadly, many of our Sunday School classes have lost evangelistic focus over the years. Our groups are filled with Christians and the focus is on Bible study and fellowship. While these are part of the purpose of Sunday School, they do not completely fulfill the purpose. It would be great if our Sunday School groups regained an evangelistic focus. If they started specifically praying for lost friends and family members. If they learned a clear, simple gospel presentation and were challenged to share it with one person. If they invited lost friends and family members to join them in their group and for worship.  If these things occurred, the evangelistic temperature in our groups and churches would be significantly raised.

This fall, Oklahoma Baptists are going to participate in the Connect>1 Evangelism campaign. Members of our ReConnect Task Force are going to be in the associations across our state during the next few months providing more information and resources to pastors and church leaders. We are excited about what God is going to accomplish through Connect>1 as groups and churches focus on sharing the Gospel with the lost around them.

James Swain

Author: James Swain

James is the BGCO Equipping Team Leader.

View more articles by James Swain.

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