News Articles

FIRST PERSON: A ‘transformational’ Sunday School

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–In the six months since the release of the book by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer reporting its findings, the Transformational Church research project has already begun to create a buzz within Sunday School, discipleship and small group movements. A lot of leaders are asking this question: “What might our Sunday School class or small group look like if it reflected the seven elements found in the Transformational Churches?”

I’ve attempted to answer that question in a new little book, “Transformational Class: Transformational Church Goes to Sunday School.” You can download it free at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.

In the spring of 2009, a team of LifeWay consultants fanned out across the country to conduct interviews with pastors from multiple denominations whose churches scored in the top 10 percent of the initial quantitative research phase of the Transformational Church project.

It was my privilege to lead that team, which assembled in Nashville to debrief this qualitative phase with Ed Stetzer, LifeWay’s vice president for research and ministry development. It was amazing to hear what our consultants observed across the country and across denominational lines. In the next seven articles, I’ll address one of the seven elements found in the Transformational Churches and how it might apply in a small group or Sunday School class. Want to know what those elements are? Visit TransformationalChurch.com.


If you’ve ever heard Ed Stetzer speak, you’ve likely heard him exhort church leaders to get people out of rows, into circles and from those circles to engage them in missional activity in their communities and beyond. I believe that a group that intentionally pursues the seven Transformational Church elements will likely become that kind of class: a Transformational Class!


If you’ve ever heard me speak, you’ve likely heard me exhort Sunday School and small group leaders about the power of every class that practices the 3 R’s of a Great Commission group: reaching people for Christ, releasing people to serve, and reproducing itself for Kingdom impact. The seven elements can help guide such intentionality in every one of the 400,000-plus Sunday School classes in Southern Baptist churches, as well as small groups and classes beyond the Southern Baptist Convention.


One of the most challenging aspects in reporting the findings from the Transformational Church research is digesting and reporting the virtual mountain of stories we uncovered. It will take perhaps 10 years to unpack it all! But you don’t have to wait. You see, you have a story. Your class has a story. That story is not complete yet. My prayer is that this series of articles will give you a fresh vision about what God can accomplish through your class. My hope for you is that 2011 will be a wonderful chapter in the story of your class or small group.
David Francis is director of Sunday School at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • David Francis