Over the past years, church leaders have given various names to their Sunday morning Bible study ministry. Sunday School has been the universal name churches have used for decades. That name originated from a school for children that used the Bible as its textbook. That school met on Sunday; thus the name.
Many leaders have decided a name change has been needed. Some of the rational includes:
- the ministry is not focused only on children
- the ministry can meet on days other than Sunday
- a new name might provide a renewed emphasis on the ministry.
So other names have appeared. Connection groups, LIFE groups, small groups, fulfillment hour, Bible fellowship groups, and more.
The name of the Bible study ministry is important. It can shape the purpose and direction for the future. Use the following three considerations when deciding the name of the Sunday morning Bible study ministry:
1. The name impacts those inside more than those outside.
The unchurched of today are second and third generation unchurched. They have little knowledge of church and church ministry. Other than weddings and funerals, many unchurched have little direct contact with the church. Therefore, to choose a certain name for your Bible study ministry and expect that name to impact those outside the church is probably wishful thinking.
The reality is the name impacts those already inside the church by addressing the function or purpose. “Connection groups” indicate the purpose of connecting people to one another and to the Word. “LIFE” is an acrostic many churches use to describe the function of the groups (example: Learn, Involve, Fellowship, Evangelize). Small groups indicate the necessity of the groups being intentionally small so relationships can develop.
2. A name change can be confusing.
Some church leaders feel a new name will bring new enthusiasm and life within the ministry. That is entirely possible. “New” can be the leader’s best friend. Without a doubt, there is power in “new.” At the same time, if a church has a long history with a certain name, changing that name can bring about confusion and questioning. Some may think leaders are doing away with a ministry, when in reality, a change of name is all that is desired.
3. The name must be branded.
Simply giving a name to a ministry means very little unless that name is branded. In other words, people must know and understand the ministry when they hear the name. Most church members know Sunday School is a ministry of groups studying the Bible on Sunday mornings. Regardless of the title, church leaders must develop a diligent plan to insure people know the function and purpose when they hear the name.
Bruce Raley has served as Director of Church Education Ministry with Lifeway Christian Resources since May 2006. A native of Arkansas, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and traveling with Donna.