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Sunday School

The largest discipleship ministry

An adult class may open with coffee and doughnuts and 10 minutes of small talk. Children sometimes enjoy a game before their lesson. High school or college students might incorporate a skit or human video. Seating arrangements can be a circle of chairs or a section of pews in the sanctuary. All these scenarios are different faces of one vital ministry: Sunday school.

A daughter’s witness

I came to Christ because of my daughter Jessica’s involvement in Sunday school. In 1984 a friend at work attended First Assembly in Grand Junction, Colo. When he invited me to come, I wasn’t interested. But I wanted my daughter to benefit from church, so I would take her to church and leave her there for the service.

She had been attending two weeks and then missed a third week. Her Sunday school teacher, Bev Smith, called our home and asked if she could dictate the memory verse over the phone. It was John 14:1: "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me" (NKJV).

I had believed that Jesus was a great historical figure, but I had never considered Him as God. It set the wheels into motion. A couple of weeks after that, my daughter invited my wife and me to come to church with her. We gave our hearts to the Lord.

– Darell Hailey
Grand Junction, Colo.

Across the Assemblies of God specialized ministries to men, women, children and youth touch multitudes of lives. Sunday school operates at a foundational level in more than 95 percent of Assemblies of God churches and involves 300,000 more people than all other church ministry programs put together. Nationally, about 1.3 million people are enrolled in classes.

The mission statement for Assemblies of God Sunday school describes its central role: "Sunday school is the foundational strategy in our church for building Great Commission Christians through Bible study groups that engage people of all ages and needs in evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and worship."

Sunday school has been an important part of the Assemblies of God from the church’s early history. By the 1950s, national Sunday school conventions grew to rival the attendance at the Fellowship’s biennial General Councils. More than 11,000 delegates gathered in St. Louis in 1954 for what became the greatest Sunday school meeting ever sponsored by the Assemblies of God. In 1960, the first full-scale international Sunday school convention brought 8,500 people from 124 nations to Minneapolis under the theme "Teach All Nations."

National Sunday school conventions eventually multiplied into regional and local events, allowing for the distribution of training and motivational sessions to a greater number of Assemblies of God churches. Today, Gospel Publishing House in Springfield, Mo., prints Radiant Life Curriculum by the ton throughout each week in order to meet the demand for quality teaching materials in the Assemblies of God as well as other evangelical groups.

Radiant Life dated curriculum has taken great strides in the past 3-5 years in the way of cutting-edge materials. There is also a wider variety of non-dated items for adults and teens. Some of the new resources include "Truths for Life" – a video-based series on the 16 Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God – and "Route 66," a doctrinal study in children’s church format.

"Our mission is to be a partner in ministry to all of our churches by helping to resource them in their efforts to fulfill the Great Commission," says Arlyn Pember, national director of the Division of Publication and GPH general manager.

The Sunday School Agency pulls together the various Sunday school-related departments within the Assemblies of God to focus their resources. Representative members include publication specialists, literature editors and marketing personnel.

The Sunday School Field Ministries Office is responsible for producing training books and other resources to hone teacher skills and provides on-the-field training.

While teacher and student resources continue to expand in Assemblies of God Sunday schools, they are not the focus of Sunday school. Resources are only tools. Each person who participates in Sunday school remains the focus of all that goes on in the classroom. Toddlers memorize simple Bible verses that become building blocks for a lifetime of Bible reading and personal application. Young children learn to distinguish right from wrong, good choices from bad, as they hear of similar choices made through the ages by men and women of God. Teens and college students are inspired to trust God with career decisions and to build their plans for marriage and family on God’s Word. Adults journey through the various seasons of life and are given tools to begin the cycle of spiritual growth again in their children and grandchildren. It all happens in Sunday school.

The Assemblies of God owes a measureless debt to the 120,000 women and men who dedicate hundreds of Sundays to teaching and living biblical truth before their classes. The Assemblies of God of tomorrow is being built today, lesson by lesson, in Sunday school classrooms both large and small by teachers who are committed to discipling believers at every stage of life. Out of those classes, countless students experience God’s call to pastor a church, journey to a mission field, evangelize a nation or simply live the gospel in their community.

 

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