SUMMARY: In this episode, Brian and Chris speak with David Francis, known around Lifeway as “Dr. Sunday School” for his role as Director of Sunday School. As a co-teacher with his wife Vickie of a four- and five-year old Sunday School class, David discusses the “Sunday School movement.” David explains why the Sunday School movement is first and foremost about children, and is thus necessary for discipleship. David shares the history of Sunday School and public education. Sunday School , which propelled the beginning of public schools, normalized the use of spelling books and libraries. Affirms Brian, “The church invented education.” Because of the significance of Sunday School in the history of public education, the term “Sunday School” has a heritage that is to be appreciated.
In light of the historical context of the term “Sunday School,” Brian, Chris, and David address the questions, “Should small groups still be called ‘Sunday School’? Is the terminology ‘Sunday School’ outdated?”
The three also discuss the importance of community and address the question, “Is it possible to achieve true community in Sunday school? If so, how?” David encourages Sunday school leaders to create community in their groups; leaders do this by adopting one of three roles—Teacher, Leader, or Shepherd. David expounds on the specific role of Shepherd in modern-day evangelism, as well as the Shepherd’s need to solve “the problem of sheep herding.”
David leaves listeners with two key words your small group or Sunday school must remember—“new” and “small.” He explains, “You’ve got to start new groups—and they’ve got to be small.”
The Groups Matter Podcast is a weekly show designed to resource, train, and encourage small group leaders. Each episode considers current trends and resources as well as timeless truths and methods of discipleship. It is hosted by Brian Daniel, a Bible study and discipleship expert in Lifeway’s Groups Ministry, and Chris Surratt, the small group and discipleship specialist at Lifeway and author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us.
GUEST: David Francis is Director of Sunday School at Lifeway. He is the author of eleven small books available for free at lifeway.com/davidfrancis or at the iTunes store. His interactive Bible study, Spiritual Gifts, is in its ninth printing and is not free! (But it is available to order at lifeway.com.) He and his wife Vickie teach four- and five-year olds in Sunday School and are members of a small group of empty nesters. Their three sons and their families live in three different time zones—Boston, Los Angeles, and Bryan-College Station.