I stopped by the hospital the other day to visit a friend from church. He was still in the Emergency Room so I wasn’t sure if they’d let me see him. I told the desk clerk his name and asked if I could say hi, even though I wasn’t family.
“Who are you?”she asked.
“I’m his Sunday school teacher,” I said.
She snorted. SNORTED! And said, “His Sunday school teacher?” as if it’s a strange thing for a grown man to have a Sunday school teacher. I wasn’t sure if he had behaved badly and she couldn’t believe he went to church, or she thought Sunday school is just for kids.
Whether you call it Sunday school, Adult Electives, small group, community, or growth group—getting together consistently with people who know and love you, and want to know and love God better, is a very good thing. Small groups rejoice in answered prayers and victories large and small. And they offer comfort when other members suffer pain.
Churches in Britain first began to offer Sunday school to poor children in the 1780’s so they could learn to read and write. They used the Bible as their textbook. These children worked in horrible conditions during the Industrial Revolution, six days a week. It wasn’t until 1802 that laws were passed to put a twelve hour limit on their days. And that stayed in place for another forty years.
Their one day off became an opportunity to get an education and have a better life—plus prizes, games, outings, and a doorway to a lifelong relationship with God. The idea was so popular it spread to America, and adults got into the act, not just as teachers but as attenders.
|An artist's beloved Bible, Dalia Lanita|
|Dalia Lanita's Bible|
Kids aren’t the only ones who need to make friends, laugh, share a snack, and learn how to apply what the Bible says to everyday life. Bible studies, support groups, and small groups that meet all days of the week have nourished me in countless ways over the years. I’ve made lifelong friends and found comfort and support in the darkest times.
Lately, our Sunday school class has been studying Revelation, which can be a mystical and foreboding book of the Bible, but we’re having a blast. We have fun because it’s a safe place to be yourself, share what you’re learning, and ask questions. Plus we have snacks. We're growing together.
I’m currently involved in three kinds of small groups: Sunday morning in Revelation, IF Table—a women’s dinner and discussion night that meets once a month, and Spark—a group that meets once a week to read through the Bible aloud and discuss as we go. Each one has a different format and involves different people, but they all meet our deep need for connection—with others and with God.
|join a group that is welcoming|
|informal backyard settings are great|
What about you?
- Did you attend some kind of small group as a child? What were your experiences?
- Are you part of a small group now? If so, what do you do when you get together?
- What needs does small group meet for you?
- What do you wish would happen in your small group that doesn’t?
- What kind of small group would you join if you could?
- Have you ever taught or led a small group?
I would love to hear from you! Your comments will help others who are either enjoying, frustrated with, or longing for a small group of their own. Your experiences and ideas could be the catalyst they need to take to connect with a community of terrific people.
#yeaforsmallgroups #adultsinchurch #adultSundayschool #howSundayschoolstarted #Sundayschoolisforeveryone