Missional Sunday School?

What the?‚  You read right folks.‚  The good folks at Lifeway are working to train people in “The Missional Sunday School.”‚  Ed Stetzer (why is his name coming up so much today?‚  Maybe it’s the calf fries.) and Bruce Raley, Director of Leadership Ministry, will speak on it during the two Sunday School training events this year.

The press release states:

“Missional” is a fairly new term used in recent years to describe some churches, para-church ministries and organizations…These churches study and learn the language of the culture and community. They strive to become part of the culture while proclaiming the gospel. They understand how to contextualize biblical life to the culture in which the church resides. In short, the missional church functions as a missionary to its community. Just as a foreign missionary determines how to take the gospel to a group within a culture, a Sunday School class or ministry can be designed to do the same.

“The Missional Sunday School” session will explore ideas and means for Sunday School to become a missionary force, impacting the church community. Stetzer will focus on research findings of missional churches, characteristics of missional leaders and the top factors and challenges of becoming a missional Sunday School.

I’m not saying anything negative about this.‚  I actually think it might work.‚  If small groups become missional, then maybe the church could.‚  My fear is that few will buy into it.‚  But that’s not a problem of strategy.

But I think they need to change the name to something like Missional Communities.‚  Sunday School?‚  Nahh…Hey guys, change the name 😀

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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  • Further evidence that “missional” is becoming so watered down that it’s barely helpful any more.

    From LifeWay’s description: “Topics include: connecting people through the missional Sunday School groups, developing a process for making disciples, and closing the “back door”.”

    If churches were really missional, there would be no back door . . . only a front door, out of which the church members would be told to go, for the purpose of incarnating the life of Christ in their communities.

  • A name change would be in order. Sunday school, implying School on Sunday, has been a negative term for many years now. Many churches have tried to change the term to Bible Study, Sunday Morning Bible Study, Discipleship Groups …it’s all the same …it needs something new.
    But good thing they are trying to write new material with a new concept.

  • Camel,

    That’s a great question. I wish I had their answer.


    I agree completely with you. I think they are jumping on a term and in reality it is greatly diminishing the meaning. And that saddens me. I honestly don’t think people are going to get.

    I think what has to be done is a complete reorganization of the whole church, a la Robert Lewis in Arkansas, that just one aspect of it.

    I will play a wait and see game with the results. I am not optimistic, but you never know.


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