I’ve got a bone to pick with Sunday School. I don’t like it and I wont do it. Sunday School was a big reason why I left one of the churches I was at. Before you get mad at me, please hear me out.
It’s not that I think small groups is better than Sunday School, it’s bigger than that. It’s not about what you call it. It’s about what it is. I believe that you have the greatest impact when you have an adult leader who is responsible for no more than 10-12 kids. That’s a small group. From my experience at more than one church, Sunday School looks a lot more like a school setting with 15-25 kids per teacher. That’s not a small group and it’s too hard for a leader to effectively shepherd that many kids. Call it what you want, small groups or Sunday school, if you’re giving your leaders more than 10-12 kids, you’re not going to have the impact you need to have.
Can Sunday School be successful? Absolutely. Again, who cares what you call it. If you can get the kids into groups of 10-12 with a qualified leader over each age group, then you can amazing success! You may just have less kids in each classroom or let a classroom be made up of two or three small groups.
See, it’s not about small groups (as a program) being better than Sunday School (as a program) but it’s more the way it is implemented. If you can create groups of 10-12 kids, you can call it God’s Glorious Bible Hour and you’ll see success. Well, maybe not with a name like that.
However, I do have a bone to pick with Sunday School but it doesn’t have anything to do with the kids. Churches who have Sunday School almost always include Sunday School for adults. This is the reason most kid’s Sunday Schools have 25 kids with one teacher. All the other people who should be working with the kids are sitting in a Sunday School class of their own. The Children’s Ministry is in direct competition with adult Sunday School. This is a no-win situation for the adults or the kids. In order to get a leader, they have to be willing to give up their service or give up their community. Seriously a church shouldn’t put people in that kind of position, but so many do.
So, that’s my rant. This is why I’m a big believer in small groups. If you’re at a church that does Sunday School, do everything you can to get those classes smaller. It will take creativity and a lot more work, but to have the impact, it’s what you’ll have to do.