Show-Me Mountains, Show-Me Sunday, Show-Me Faith!
Show-Me Mountains: As I write this article, I am sitting at Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, N.Mex. I am here attending Sunday School Week and leading a conference on Small Sunday Schools for Lifeway Christian Resources. Glorieta, or “little glory” as its name means, is surrounded by mountains and sits in the Santa Fe National Forest and the Pecos National Wilderness. It is one of two Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) owned and operated Conference Centers. The other is Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., which sits in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Both are dedicated to teaching people who God is and how He wants us to live our lives. They are wonderful places to come and receive training in ways to more effectively serve God at home, church, work and community.
If your church has never brought its leadership to either Glorieta or Ridgecrest then you are missing a real blessing. I encourage every church, no matter how big or how small, to place money in your church budget this year to help cover travel expenses for your Sunday School leaders. Then encourage your Sunday School leaders to plan on spending a week of vacation attending Sunday School Week. There is something for every member of the family – from preschoolers to adults. It is well worth the money and the training you receive will be top notch. Some of the best Sunday School experts in the country are enlisted to lead conferences and new resources from Lifeway are introduced during the week. (Sometimes they even let guys like me come and lead a conference!) And there’s something about the altitude that makes the food taste so good. Plus there are lots of things to do and see to make every member of the family happy. This year there were only 10 people from Missouri that attended Sunday School Week at Glorieta. I would love to see that number increase to 100.
Show-Me Sunday: Last year we introduced “Show-Me Sunday! A State-Wide Sunday School High Attendance Campaign.” As I traveled around Missouri last fall I was encouraged to see the posters that were provided hanging on bulletin boards and Sunday School classrooms in many or our churches. Several churches sent in testimonies of what had happened in their church as a result of participating in Show-Me Sunday. We have had some of those testimonies on our Sunday School web site (www.mobaptist.org/ssd) this year. The emphasis was not intended to produce large numbers that would be reported to one central location, but rather a way to help churches emphasize the importance of Sunday School and each member taking responsibility to invite friends, relatives, associates and neighbors to come be a part of Bible Study.
Many of you sent in suggestions to make the emphasis more usable in our churches. Some wondered why we did not make the suggested date the first day of November instead of the more traditional last day of October. To be honest, I had forgotten that “Time Change Sunday” (the good one, where people who have forgotten to set their clocks back an hour show up for worship and instead get there just in time for Sunday School) had been moved from the last Sunday of October to the first Sunday in November. So this year that will be our “suggested date.” Notice I put suggested date in quotations. Because others of you said you wanted your church to participate in a High Attendance Campaign, but you wanted to do it at another time than the date we had printed on the poster. So this year we are suggesting that Nov. 1 be the day that churches promote Show-Me Sunday, but we have left a blank space for the church to write in both the date and attendance goal that they select.
As we did last year, we will provide two full-color posters for every church. (More posters are available free of charge from the Sunday School Office.) In addition, we will provide a black and white master copy of the class sign-up sheet, commitment card, and bulletin insert that each church can use to produce as many copies as they need. All of this will be mailed to each Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) church in early August. Be sure to watch for the packet. Help will be available on our web site for making this a more involved high attendance campaign for your church. Make it a month-long emphasis and encourage each class to set weekly attendance goals. Or, just emphasize high attendance on Show-Me Sunday. The main thing is, make sure your church participates.
Show-Me Faith: The Show-Me Sunday scripture theme for this year is Matthew 17:20 “… if you have faith as small as a mustard seed … Nothing will be impossible for you.” Do you believe God wants your Sunday School to grow? I believe He wants all of His churches to grow. I also believe that He does not put a limit on how much we can grow. But sometimes we put a limit on ourselves. Jesus says that if we have faith “as small as a mustard seed”… now that’s pretty small. A mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds there are. And yet, Jesus says that if we have just that much faith, nothing will be impossible for us! I’m sitting here looking at the mountains at Glorieta and I realize that Jesus said faith can move mountains. I believe with faith, we’ll see more people involved in Bible study throughout Missouri this year than ever before. O Lord, show us faith … and let it begin in me. (Mark Donnell is Sunday School specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention.)