What are the challenges churches face in providing both Sunday School and Small Groups?

Dr. Daryl Eldridge with Rockbridge Seminary posted this question as a comment on one of last week’s blog postings. GREAT QUESTION!

What are the challenges churches face in providing both Sunday School and Small Groups?

Here are my learnings around this topic:

1. Senior Pastors are not in either a Sunday School or a Small Group. (hard to lead if you aren’t in a group)

2. Staff members are usually not in either.

3. Us vs. Them mentality – have to address early in the transition.

4. Different leadership structures – if you are going to have both, set up the same leadership structure for both. It will save you time and energy. Enlist, Train, and Place around the purposes of scripture. It will make your job much easier

5. Entitlement issues for Sunday Schools – S.S.’s have entitlement issues with funding for everything including curriculum and childcare. Small Groups don’t cost anything…literally. Decentralized small groups fund themselves.

6. Childcare for Small Groups- who takes care of my kids? The group does. Church doesn’t provide childcare.

7. Control – pastors and some traditional leadership structures can’t give up control. They are so concerned that Small Groups will not be held accountable. This is interesting to me, because most churches don’t hold their Sunday School Teachers accountable right now anyway. It has been my experience that Small Groups are much more open to accountability than Sunday Schools. Pursue “growth over control”.

8. Maintenance – it has been our experience that some when considering both/and will choose maintenance over ministry which defeats the purpose of growth over control. Maintenance of Sunday School sometimes quenches the growth of what some are seeing in Small Groups which hinders health and balance. Pursue “ministry over maintenance”. Empower them until trust is broken.


  1. These really hit home don’t they Kerry. This is some of the best and most concise information out there. It brings back memories of transitioning together! It’s worth it in the end but boy is it tough.

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