I'm a Sunday School guy. I mean, a REAL Sunday School guy. For years, I went to bat for Sunday School over small groups. I used to believe small groups were going to be the death of Sunday School one day. I fought tooth and nail for churches to hang on to Sunday School. I preached the evils of small groups.
And then I led one. Oops.
Our church, Fielder Church in Arlington, has grown so much that there was just no way to continue to support everyone in an on-campus class. There was not enough space, not enough hours in the day on Sundays, not enough acres in our site…it just couldn't be done. So now, we're at a place where 50 percent of our groups are off-campus.
I began to notice there was a group of people who work on Sundays, and because of that, they had never been in a small group. At the time, my wife and I were involved in the "First Impressions" team.We started asking around and discovered that many of these people, who had been members at Fielder for decades and had been serving in this ministry for years and years, had never been a member of a small group because of their service on Sunday mornings.
So, (I'm still not sure what came over me), I said to the leader of this team one Sunday, "Hey, we should start an off campus group for this team." And she jumped at the chance! She offered her home. We met at a restaurant with that couple and had an initial planning meeting and started putting down names of people we could invite and planning dates, and before we knew it, I was in a (horrors!) small group!
That was three or four years ago, and this inauspicious beginning has turned into 15-16 people meeting regularly; several real life transformations; one wedding, which will really make you smile; an upcoming baptism; and countless stories of answered prayer, I mean real mind-boggling, life-altering, "ain't God Good!, would you look at that, we serve an awesome God" answered prayer that has our whole group telling their friends and neighbors how they need to come and see what God is doing in our group.
We regularly see new people testing the waters in our little group because of what they've heard from some member of our group who is so excited.
And we do great Bible study! We don't "deliver lessons." We dive into "discovery learning" opportunities, and together we discover the awesome, life-changing truths God has provided for us, just for us, in His living Word. We're becoming better and better at making relevant and real discoveries to us. We're using tools we didn't know how to use before we started this grand experiment.
And we're finding that we're family. And I'm still a Sunday School guy. We're just doing it in a different location, in a different way. Who knew! Baptists can change? Whoa. I think I need to sit down a minute…
Read more about Keith's small group in the article "Life change and changed lives" in the latest edition of the TX Baptist Magazine. Read more...
Keith Lowry serves as Adult Consultant (Sunday School Guy) on the Bible Study/Discipleship Team for Texas Baptists. To learn more about starting small groups in your church, contact Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (214) 828-5206.