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What Is Sunday School?

Sunday School is not an educational institution for children. It is not even a church program. Sunday School is a strategy that our church intentionally uses to accomplish the Great Commission.

Sunday School is the foundational strategy at First Baptist Church for leading people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and for building Great Commission Christians through Bible study groups that engage people in evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and worship.

Or, if you want a pretty, downloadable version:

Definition of Sunday School

Let's break that down into a vision frame:


  • Lead people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

  • Build Great Commission Christians


  • The local church

  • The Lordship of Jesus Christ

  • The Great Commission

  • The Bible

  • The Holy Spirit

  • [Innovation and creativity]


  • Bible study groups that engage people in evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and worship


  • Numerical growth

  • Spiritual growth

  • Missions advance

  • Ministry expansion

If you want to understand the whats and whys and hows of Sunday School, those four headings should answer all of your questions. Any church anywhere in the world can use this to build an effective Sunday School ministry.

It's important that we understand these values (they are all equally important):

  1. The Local Church. Our Sunday School classes aren’t just floating around on our own but are part of our church and must be part of our church’s vision and strategy. We promote, highlight, and serve in and through our local church.

  2. The Lordship of Jesus Christ. We are not our own but were bought with a price. Our goal in our classes is to help everyone abandon the pattern of the world and be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

  3. The Great Commission. Jesus did not give us a “Great Suggestion” but a command to guide our every decision; our command to make disciples includes teaching them to obey everything He commanded, an enormous task.

  4. The Bible. That “everything He commanded” is the Bible, which is why in our Sunday School the Bible is our source of truth and the primary resource we will use.

  5. The Spirit. Implied in the definition of Sunday School is our reliance on the Holy Spirit (and not our methods or efforts) as the inspirer of the Bible, the illuminator of our minds, and the power behind our transformation.

  6. Innovation and creativity. Also implied in this definition is our willingness to be innovative in our methods for reaching people and teaching them the Bible (Bible truths do not change, but the contexts of people do).

And it’s also important that we understand our measures. To do Sunday School well, you can’t just look at your own Sunday School class but at our church’s entire Sunday School. (e.g., your two-year-olds might be giving you fits, but your class allows their parents to be engaged in their own class). You also can’t just look at numbers but at overall impact:

The success of a teacher is best measured by the number of persons in that class who have either left the class to lead another one, become a part of a core group for a new class, or are leaders in other ministries of the church.

Where do we get those five functions? From the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [Worship] ... Love your neighbor as yourself [Ministry]. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35-40 “Go and make disciples of all nations [Evangelism], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit [Fellowship/church building], and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you [Discipleship].” Or, if you want to download a pretty version:

The Great Commandment and the Great Commission

This is Sunday School. In one page.

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