Sunday School And Small Groups
Sunday School and small groups hold a vital role in the Church of the Nazarene. Also, see the document: Local Sunday School and Small Groups.
Sunday School and small groups are an important aspect of Nazarene Discipleship International (NDI). Sunday School has always been a part of the Church of the Nazarene. From the denominational beginnings at Pilot Point, Texas, the founding fathers were firmly committed to promoting evangelism, missions, and Christian education. This young, fledgling religious movement took seriously Christ’s command to “go . . . make disciples of all nations. . . teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).
Because of the evangelistic fervor and revival spirit of those days, the Sunday School became the primary tool through which new believers were taught the tenets of faith. Sunday School and small groups hold a vital role in the Church of the Nazarene. The Sunday School and small groups help NDI fulfill its Core Principles to men, women, boys, and girls as they study God’s Word, the Bible, and apply its life-guiding principles.
Other Purposes of the Sunday School Include:
- To provide a safe setting in which people can share their joys and sorrows, their concerns, and their questions about life and the answers they discover
- To help people discover how to grow as Christians by leading them to examine God’s Word and apply it to their lives
- To provide an opportunity for people to enjoy small-group fellowship with others who share their concerns and values
- To work together to reach people for Jesus Christ.
Reaching People . . .
Sunday School is the setting in which a deeper level of community and learning can be achieved through the personal interchange of thoughts, ideas, and feelings. From the Garden of Eden, where God personally tutored Adam and Eve; to Abraham and the Israelites, who were instructed to teach God’s truths in the home; to the present-day Sunday School, the learning process has always been most effective in small-group settings. This effective small-group organization still offers support, care, and fellowship to individuals. As one faithful attendee points out, “In Sunday School, the people know me by name.”
Teaching People …
No schoolteacher or college teacher ever faces a classroom without a preplanned lesson outline for the course. A system is necessary—a logically sequenced system—that will help students learn the proper material in the proper order. Each lesson builds upon the previous lesson to give students full knowledge and a complete education. Likewise, in Christian education, a definite plan gives the best chance to impact the spiritual development of students. It is called “curriculum.”
Why be concerned with a curriculum plan? What a group hears and digests mentally is what its members eventually become. Because people of different age-groups have different needs and different ways of learning, the Church of the Nazarene provides a graded Sunday School curriculum for all age levels.
Using the Bible as the text, WordAction curriculum is prayerfully developed to systematically move each age group through the major tenets of our faith. Through this progression of building lesson upon lesson, a firm foundation of practical—and theologically sound—doctrine is laid in each believer’s life.
The Church of the Nazarene is a Holiness denomination with a unique calling. Every church with the name Nazarene has a trust to maintain doctrinal integrity in its teaching. The objectives are to ground Nazarene disciples in the Wesleyan-Arminian perspective and help students understand why we are Holiness people and why we have chosen to support this church’s mission. To help maintain this holiness trust, the Church of the Nazarene decided years ago to produce curriculum from the Wesleyan-Arminian point of view. Today, WordAction is the world’s largest producer of Holiness curriculum.
Each level of curriculum is designed specifically for that age level—not adapted from a generic list. Each level includes activities, special helps, and a relevant focus to guide students toward their maximum growth potential.
Curriculum in the Church of the Nazarene is created by practitioners. We employ writers and editors who know the age-group for which they are writing. We are confident that our curriculum will work and is theologically sound.
We know it’s practical and meets needs because every week many of our editors teach the same curriculum they develop in their local churches. WordAction is the time-tested and theologically- true medium to lead all ages—from children to adults—into a deeper spiritual pilgrimage.
Sunday School and small groups are the personal, ministering arms of the church. They assist the pastor and other church leaders. Committed, caring disciple makers become undershepherds who reach, teach, care for, and nurture each believer. The Sunday School and small groups are effective means of reaching and assimilating new people into the church.
Sunday School and Small Groups are overseen by the NDI President who gives strong leadership to the growth of Sunday School and other discipleship groups in the local church by working with and through the NDI Board to:
- Coordinate a yearlong calendar of activities and programs
- Know what curriculum materials are being used in each Sunday School, small group, and discipleship class (see Nazarene Manual, par. 155 – 156.6)
- Plan for the beginning of new Sunday School classes in the local church
- Conduct regular studies of enrollment and attendance trends of the local church
- Set goals for increases in the Accountability Care List and attendance (see NDI Bylaws , Article III)
- Plan for annual growth campaigns to insure that they become effective outreach programs
- Target possible communities nearby that do not have Nazarene Sunday Schools/small groups as possible projects of the local NDI Board
- Regularly provide reports to the local church board and on the Annual Pastor’s Report
- Approve, in consultation with the pastor, nominations for the local church age-group councils: children and adult only
- Approve, in consultation with the pastor, all nominations made by the ministry coordinators of children and adults and the NYI president, for Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, officers, and other ministry personnel
- Appoint, in consultation with the pastor, any other NDI workers necessary.
Sunday School is the foundational ministry for every age-group. A church should provide this ministry even if it can provide no others. The work of the Sunday School is best carried out through age-groups—children, youth, and adult—with a council responsible to organize and administer the work of each. As a church grows, it should add additional ministries for each age-group as needs become apparent and there are leadership and resources to meet those needs.
Here is a possible job description for Sunday School and small group teachers:
- To see the task as a spiritual calling – more than a job.
- To be a disciple maker in accordance with the Nazarene Discipleship International (NDI) Core Principles of Fervent Prayer, Compassionate Outreach, Comprehensive Biblical Learning, Intentional Mentoring and Equipping, and Authentic Relationships.
- To work with department supervisors to plan, carry out, and evaluate each unit of study.
- To arrange and decorate the area/ room/ rooms where the group meets.
- To remain loyal and obedient to the church, pastor, authorities in your assignment.
- To attend staff training courses or engage in the individual study plan on a regular basis.
- To keep informed of current ideas and information about Sunday School and small groups through systematic reading and studying.
- To attend seminars, conventions and workshops.
- To evaluate your teaching periodically and find ways to improve effectiveness.
- To teach each session in a way that is appropriate to the needs and understanding of the learners.
- To involve learners in the truth of what is being learned.
- To provide opportunity for the salvation of each learner and for the subsequent maturation in Christ.
- To arrive a minimum of 15 minutes before the announced starting time to arrange materials and greet learners.
- To complete attendance and personal data records as required.
- To be regular in attendance.
- To prepare each session in a thorough manner.
- To plan social activities for the group.
- To develop a thorough understanding of the age level you are leading, studying the age-level resources.
- To pray earnestly for each learner.
- To compile a list of prospects for the group.
- To attend departmental meetings and staff conferences.
- To be aware of and support departmental and all Nazarene Discipleship International (NDI) goals.
- To notify the proper person well in advance of anticipated absences or when terminating your assignment.
- To become personally acquainted with each learner, knowing such things as names, spiritual experience, needs, and family relationship.
- To visit each learner’s home.
- To observe learner activities as possible at home, school, work, etc.
- To faithfully contact absentees in accord with the outreach and visitation policies.