Evangelism is only the first step in what the church and the individual Christian are called to: disciple making. Being a disciple and making disciples are not solo endeavors. Individual disciples are to live and serve in the midst of community, with a high dependence on brothers and sisters in the Lord. Sunday school classes and small groups act as the communities and the context in which disciples live, learn, care, and serve.
A disciple is a learner. He is constantly in a learning and maturing process. The goal of that process is change toward faith and Christlikeness. Several factors are involved in bringing about this kind of change and maturity in an individual. One is through the experiences of the Christian life and the Christian faith. This experience happens in small groups, where struggles, victories, pains, and recoveries are shared. Another factor for bringing about spiritual transformation is Bible study. Scripture grounds believers in their faith and provides a lamp for their feet and a light for their path (Psalm 119:105). A systematic study of Scripture can occur in the adult Sunday school class.
Where do Sunday school and small groups fit in to making disciples? Sunday school can have a major role in helping to incorporate people into the life of the church. Friendships are key to assimilating people, and Sunday school classes are built on webs of friendships. Sunday school classes also provide a sense of belonging that is so important. Sunday school gives people an opportunity to be involved in a task of the church, and this helps them feel more a part of the body. And, Sunday school is a place to shepherd people.
"Small groups lend themselves perfectly to growth in discipleship because people learn best ...