During challenging days of ministry, I always knew whom to call. Rick Howerton has a warm, kind, indefatigable personality. He’s a pastor to pastors. Many years ago, when I was serving a church in Kentucky and he was working at LifeWay in Nashville, he asked me to participate in a panel discussion about small groups and Sunday school. At the time, I oversaw one of the largest hybrid programs in America. The truth is, however, Rick didn’t need my input. His expertise was far beyond what I brought to the conversation.
When it comes to adult Sunday school and small groups there is probably no one with more knowledge, wisdom, and experience than Rick Howerton. Besides his pastoral experience, Rick served twice as Small Groups Champion at LifeWay, as a Small Groups Consultant for NavPress, and now serves as a church consultant in the south-central region of Kentucky. He’s also the author of a terrific book, A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small-Group Dynamic, which was released a few years back.
Rick, you’ve ministered in a variety of settings. The Southern Baptist Convention has a rich history of Sunday school and you offer a unique perspective as a pastor who loves and appreciates both. Let’s start with a simple question. What do Sunday school classes and small groups have in common?
Sunday school and small groups share the same primary goals, the goals Jesus commanded just prior to His ascension. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19 – 20a, ...