This week’s book of the week is Ken Hemphill’s Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur. Hemphill makes a case for a Sunday school growth strategy that can work in churches. When he uses the term, “Sunday school,” he incorporates any effective small group strategy. While North Side has small groups and Sunday school, it is interesting to note that Sunday school was an innovation of its day. Some people saw an urgent need, and they created Sunday school to help fix that need. What’s great about that fact is that any particular method isn’t sacred (small groups or classes), what’s important is that the church is meeting the needs of the day.
Top 5 Thoughts (really on what can make Sunday school or small groups go bad):
- Providing a brief historical perspective on Sunday School, Hemphill stated, “Few would debate the significant role of Sunday School in the history of church growth…Inspired by British examples, most [Sunday schools] were designed to provide rudimentary instruction to poor working children on their only free day of the week” (2).
- “The Sunday School must be plugged into a passion for evangelism; otherwise, it will settle into the comfort zone of a maintenance organization” (15).
- “Once a church reaches people through the front door of worship, the church still must assimilate them into the small-group structure. Otherwise they will exit through the back door of apathy” (21).
- “If, however, the church focuses on fulfilling the Great Commission, it is difficult to mount any serious objection to such a focus without revealing the true selfish and carnal motives that are behind the desire to keep the church small or a particular class together” (35).
- Concerning the “leaks” that happen in church life when people are missing from assimilation efforts, Hemphill stated, “When the task is assumed to be the responsibility of everyone, it becomes the concern of no one” (119).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.