Preparing to Teach: Lesson 1 Class Notes Part 2
Why is it that some Sunday schools grow and others do not? This study reveals that, whatever the cause is, many neglect to implement the principles that impact the potential growth. Keep in mind that the fastest growing Sunday schools implement 9 of the 10 practices, but not all the same 9. Why would all not do this? Could it be that implementing and sustaining multiple practices is a sacrifice that many congregations and members of congregations are not willing to make? Most likely it would take a full-time worker. In short, such effort is often abandoned not because it will not work, but because of the work involved in making it work. "They" (could it be "we") do not want to do what it will take to grow.
Another study of churches (unidentified) in North America concluded:
Churches with ineffective Sunday schools violate the very principles that make Sunday school a viable organization; they dilute biblical teachings, fail to train effective teachers, replace systematic Bible teaching with other types of group activity, and relegate Sunday school to the status of one more church activity.
If you want to stir up a mountain of resistance, make a genuine push to change "the way we have always done it." You will meet (by way of suggestion and not limitation):
leaders who do not want to participate in training;
preachers who do not want to be "hands on" with Bible Study;
members who do not want their class moved;
members who think that evangelism is the job of the staff;
members who do not want their class "split"; and
teachers who will not agree to a list of standards.
There is often universal resistance to the very practices that are common in churches with growing Sunday schools.
One list of "WHY SOME SUNDAY SCHOOLS DO NOT GROW" makes the following suggestions:
- A total lack of intention.
- A lack of leadership.
- An absence of skills.
- Poorly equipped leaders and teachers.
- An assumption that Sunday School is outdated or irrelevant.
Another list contained "MYTHS ABOUT SUNDAY SCHOOL GROWTH":
- We would grow if we had a better curriculum.
- We would grow if we had more staff.
- We would grow if we were more innovative.
- We would grow if we were located elsewhere.
- We would grow if we had more resources.
It is not difficult to come up with a list of "what's wrong." What is difficult is having the courage and the determination to do something about it. What we are engaged in this quarter is not a complete solution, but it is a foundational and essential step if we are to move in the right direction. It is not right (stated positively, it is wrong) to insist upon Bible Study attendance and pressure folks to attend if those of us who teach are not doing all that we can to make each class something special. Keep in mind that every week a teacher is occupying a substantial amount of time. For instance, 30 persons in a class of 45 minutes equals 22.5 person hours of time. How can one who loves the God of Heaven, who loves His Holy Word, and who loves those in the class do no more than reading a few pages in a "little book" and claim to be prepared to teach? I picked up one of the "little books" used here. It had the requisite 13 lessons. Obviously the author did not take into account that, like us, a congregation may lose at least one class per quarter where continuity and full coverage are not considered as important as a guest speaker. (That may well be true when the "little book – one quarter per class" rules the day. Of course, if more time were given to study a book of the Bible it would not hurt to lose a Sunday.) It had 128 pages with 15 of them dedicated to matters other than the lessons. Divide the remaining 113 pages by 13 and each lesson averages roughly 8.7 pages per class. If all pages are crammed into 12 classes it averages roughly 9.4 pages. Preparation? Doing the best we can? Striving to build up the faith and contribute to the spiritual growth of the class? Providing something other than pabulum? Hardly.
Hopefully and prayerfully, this class will help us take a step forward.
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)