NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“In the traditional black church, most people only attend the worship service,” said Jay Wells, director of LifeWay Christian Resources’ ministry to black churches.
“We need to move them beyond the experience in the worship service to become disciples,” Wells told several hundred leaders of black churches attending a National Black Sunday School Conference at LifeWay’s headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.
“The percentage of the population attending church is declining and the influence of the church is getting weaker. The commitment level of people is getting low,” Wells said, whereas, “The early church was concerned about what God called them to do, not what the church could do for them.”
Breakout sessions and electives during the two-day conference addressed such topics as how to reach teens in a hip-hop culture and the development of a Growth-Oriented Sunday School class (GOSS). Two GOSS tracks were offered — one for those new to the theory and an alumni track for those who learned about the strategy at the national conference in 2007.
Characteristics of a GOSS church strategy include:
— An emphasis on getting everyone in a small group, not just children.
— Teaching for spiritual transformation, not just information.
— Focus on adults.
— Sunday School as a foundational strategy for leading people to faith in Jesus Christ and for building on-mission Christians through Bible study groups that engage people in evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry and worship.
Chandra Bennett, editor of LifeWay’s new urban/multicultural curriculum “YOU,” challenged Sunday School leaders during the Oct. 24-25 gathering to see their ministries as opportunities for spiritual transformation for themselves and their class members.
“Spiritual transformation is God’s work of changing a believer into the likeness of Jesus by creating a new identity in Christ and by empowering a lifelong relationship of love, trust and obedience to glorify God,” Bennett said. “You can only impact others in Sunday School when you are being transformed yourself.”
Jenny Wingard is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn. For more information on black church events sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources or the new “YOU” urban/multicultural curriculum, visit lifeway.com/you.