The missing ingredient of Sunday School

by Terri Howell, BSCNC Sunday School Ministry

Thursday, April 5, 2018

If you are familiar with the renowned Angus Barn steakhouse in Raleigh, you know their chocolate chess pie is as highly rated as their premium, aged steaks. Plus, they give away the recipe.

The simple pie has only seven ingredients and takes less than an hour to bake, so I tried it.

Surrounded by the buttery aroma of baking chocolate and piecrust, I found it difficult to finish my vegetables before digging into the decadent dessert. I took one bite, but had to spit it out.

What went wrong?

I followed the simple recipe, but something — a key ingredient — was missing. I forgot the dash of salt. The pie was inedible.

Sunday School is like the chocolate chess pie recipe but with three necessary ingredients rather than seven.

A great Sunday School class consists of:

  1. Teaching the Word of God.
  2. Caring for members inside the class.
  3. Sharing with those outside the class.

N.C. churches are blessed to have great Bible study teachers and care leaders who minister to class members and their families. But oftentimes, we lack salt when it comes to sharing with our neighbors outside the church doors. So what can we do?

That was the question on Pastor Devon Varnam’s mind a few years ago when he challenged Sunday School classes at Tar Heel Baptist Church to find local partnerships and do ministry with them. Here’s what happened.

The young professionals class partnered with Carolina Crossroads, a Bible-based drug rehabilitation center, and began spending time building relationships with the guys and leading a devotion once a month.

Two years ago, the same class created a garden at the rehabilitation center so they would have fresh food. Last year they built a chicken coop and bought chickens to provide fresh eggs each day.

A senior adult ladies’ class partnered with Hospice. Once or twice a month, they request a list of needs. The class gathers and delivers the resources so that when families arrive at Hospice, they have what they need.

In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (ESV).

The gospel is the salt of disciple-making both inside and outside of Sunday School. When Jesus’ life is our model for Sunday School, we begin to love people on both sides of the church door through teaching, caring and sharing.

Inside-Out Sunday School training goes deeper into these foundational principles and offers practical ways to have a balanced approach to Sunday School that includes all of the necessary ingredients. Make plans to join us at an upcoming training near you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Terri Howell serves as the ministry assistant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Sunday School and Small Groups Ministry.