MBC promotes 5-star churches to boost Sunday Schools
By Bob Baysinger
June 22, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – Somewhere, sometime in the past – Sunday Schools in most Missouri Baptist churches strayed from their original roots of evangelism and discipleship.
Bruce Morrison and the rest of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Sunday School Department staff have designed a plan they hope will help Sunday Schools in Missouri rediscover their purpose for existence.
“We’re calling it the ‘5-Star’ plan,” Morrison said. “We’ve already been out there talking about it all over the state.”
The plan involves a challenge to smaller Missouri Baptist churches to become a “5-Star church.” Each star in the plan represents one of the five facets of Sunday School – evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry and worship.
“What we’re asking churches to do is commit to becoming a 5-Star church, with an inappropriate balance in Sunday School,” Morrison said. “Sunday School will be the catalyst to becoming a 5-Star church.
“Evangelism is the primary purpose of Sunday School. It’s the connective point in the church. Every church member should be a member of the Sunday School and involved in ministry through the Sunday School.”
The battle cry for the MBC Sunday School team is “back to the basics because they work.”
“We’ve discovered across the state that many of our churches have lost their basic principles,” Morrison said. “They’re not observing the basic purpose of ministry, so we’re trying to draw them back to the functions of Sunday School ministry.”
Kenny Qualls, MBC associate executive director, agrees with his Sunday School staff that the purpose of Sunday School is outreach.
“Sunday School is a great evangelistic tool in the church,” Qualls said. “The 5-Star plan will assist our churches in getting back to the basic [tenet] of the Great Commission through Sunday School.”
The mindset in most churches, Qualls added, is that Sunday School is just for believers instead of using Sunday School for outreach.
“It’s an open group, closed group question,” Qualls said. “There are times that a closed group is best. For example, a class to help believers mature in their faith would be a closed group. But the main purpose for Sunday School should be to get the Gospel out in an open setting.”
Morrison believes the reason so many churches have gotten away from their original purpose is because they have become “program driven.”
“Churches have been given a lot of programs,” he said. “Because of these programs, we’ve strayed from the basic principles of effective ministry. You can ask churches anywhere in the state how many people they have in their prospect file, and all you will get is a blank stare. Most churches do not have a prospect file.
“And a lot of churches are not doing leadership training on a regular basis. The Georgia Baptist Convention did a study and found that in their 50 fastest growing Sunday Schools, 98 percent provided training for the leadership.”
The MBC Sunday School Department is now assimilating information collected in a survey of all Missouri Baptist churches with average Sunday School attendance of 100 or less. It reveals 1,304 churches reporting 100 or less attending Sunday School. Another 300 churches reported no Sunday School information.
“Preliminary information indicates two of every three smaller churches in the state are no longer conducting an ongoing discipleship ministry,” Morrison said. “The purpose of discipleship ministry is to equip leaders and train the saints for service. If two of three churches are not doing that, it’s easy to understand why we’re in the trouble we’re in.”