“Sunday School guys” and “small group guys” are often pitted against each other.  Here are some of the stereotypes:

Sunday schools help people to grow in Biblical knowledge…small groups don’t.

Small groups build healthy relationships…Sunday schools don’t really care about the relational aspect.

Small groups are relevant…Sunday school was relevant 50 years ago.

Sunday school really helps people go “deep” in their faith…small groups stay on the surface-level depth of Christianity.

Here are a few things I can confidently assert about the discipleship in the Christian life:

  • Discipleship is more than just information transfer.  The disciples spent time with Jesus.  They heard him preach…but that wasn’t Jesus’ only method of making disciples.  He spent significant amounts of time with them.
  • “Depth” doesn’t just mean a person can quote all 9 of John Piper’s sermons on TULIP, or completely and succinctly recite the Westminster Catechism.  Some of the deepest, most life-changing conversations I have had with others haven’t revolved around difficult, divisive theological issues.  Depth, in my opinion, is about things which matter both here and in eternity.  Not all of those things necessitate insider language. (see my post on the danger of insider language HERE)  Can we really say that the intricacies of the atonement are “deeper” than the challenge to truly love our neighbor?
  • However we communicate (via sermon, blog, twitter, Facebook, over a cup of coffee, a text message, an email, a letter, or an iPhone app), we need to portray the life-transforming nature of the Gospel (the nature and pervasiveness of sin, the hopelessness of the sinner, the person and life of Christ, and the hope of a coming resurrection) in a way that makes sense to both believers and non-believers alike.
  • The goal of Christianity is Christ-likeness. See Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Galatians 4:19, Ephesians 4:13, 22-24
  • This goal cannot be accomplished without the help of others.  Jesus, in John 13:34, said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  You cannot do that on your own!

I believe that the way that we, at Grace, do small groups is the best way that the above truths of discipleship are accomplished.  If, at some point, we cease to make disciples, I’m willing to throw out the system in favor of the mission.  Don’t believe me?  Read my post about that very thing HERE and HERE.

What do you think?  Is discipleship better accomplished in Sunday School or small groups?  Should we throw both of them out and start all over?

If you want to see small groups expert Rick Howerton and Sunday School guru David Francis talk this through, check out the video they put together HERE.