The following is a slight revision of an article written by Rick Warren to his church on why they should be involved in Small Groups. The reasons he gives are applicable to why members of First Baptist Church should be in a Sunday School Class (Group).
It’s the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family.
It’s a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love. You learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor 12:26). Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the connection God intends for us to have (Eph. 4:16, Rom. 12:4–5, Col. 2:19, 1 Cor. 12:25).
REAL fellowship is being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 Jn 3:16). This is the kind of sacrificial love God expects you to show other believers—loving them in the same way Jesus loves you.
A Sunday School Group helps me develop spiritual muscle.
You’ll never grow to maturity just by attending worship services and being a passive spectator. One of the main tools of spiritual growth is participation in a small group, where your spiritual muscles get a regular workout. “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16).
Over fifty times in the New Testament the phrase “one another” or “each other” is used. We‘re commanded to love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, admonish each other, greet each other, serve each other, teach each other, accept each other, honor each other, bear each other’s burdens, forgive each other, submit to each other, be devoted to each other, and many other mutual tasks! These are your “family responsibilities” if you claim to be a part of God’s family.
Who are you doing these with? Isolation breeds self-deception. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re mature if there is no one to challenge us. Real maturity shows up in relationships. We need more than the Bible in order to grow; we need other believers. When others share what God is teaching them, I learn and grow too!
A Sunday School Group confirms my identity as a genuine believer.
I can’t claim to be following Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples. Jesus said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). When we come together in love as a Sunday School group from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and social status, it’s a witness to the world (Galatians 3:28, John 17:21).
You’re not the Body of Christ on your own. You need others to express that. Together, not separated, we are His Body (1 Cor. 12:27).
A Sunday School Group is the best way to take my God-given mission in the world.
When Jesus walked the earth, even he had a small group! Today the church is Christ’s Body on earth. We’re not just to love each other; we’re to take that love together to the rest of the world. We’re His hands, His feet, His eyes, and His heart. He works through us in the world. “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).
A Sunday School Group will help keep me from spiritually backsliding.
None of us are immune to temptation. Given the right situation, you and I are capable of any sin. God knows this, so He has assigned us as individuals the responsibility of keeping each other on track. The Bible says, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness” (Heb 3:13).
“Mind your own business” is NOT a Christian idea when it comes to helping each other! We’re commanded to be involved in each other’s lives. If you know someone who is wavering spiritually right now, it’s your responsibility to go after them and bring them back into the fellowship. “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
Related to this is the benefit that being connected to a Sunday School group provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders. God gives shepherd leaders such as a Sunday School Leader or a pastor, the responsibility to guard, protect, defend, and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account” (Heb 13:17). If you’re detached from the First Baptist Body of believers, I’m not responsible for you. If you are unplugged from the life of the Body and isolated from the fellowship of God’s family, Satan knows you’ll be defenseless and powerless against his tactics.
The Body of Christ needs me!
You have a background and experiences that other people can learn from and draw strength from! God has a unique role for you to play in his family. This is called your “ministry,” and God has gifted you for this assignment. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7). Your Sunday School group is the place God designed for you to discover, develop, and use your spiritual gifts and talents.