Small Groups Are Not the Same as Sunday School Classes

I had some good interaction this week with a reader who took issue with some of my assumptions about the differences between Sunday school classes and small groups.  He had read my post, How to Build a Small Group Ministry in a Church with a Sunday School Culture (and later read But We Have Adult Sunday SchoolTrue Community or a Smaller Version of the Weekend Service? and Essential Ingredients of Life-Change).  Mostly…he disagreed.

I pointed out to the reader that there are distinct differences in a Sunday school class and a small group.  He disagreed and said,

“I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY WE TALK ABOUT SUNDAY SCHOOL AND SMALL GROUPS AS TWO DIFFERENT ENTITIES, WHEN IN ALL REALITY, THEY ARE THE EXACT SAME THING.”

I decided that it might help to list what I think are some of the key differences between a Sunday school class and a small group.  See if these seven differences add up for you.

First, a few clarifications:

  • Sunday school classes were originally designed for outreach.  In their earliest forms, Sunday school classes were small and functioned like a small group in some important ways.  See also, The 5 Step Formula for Sunday School Growth.
  • Calling something a “small group” doesn’t change what it is.  We’ve all experienced or heard about the tactic of renaming everything a small group.  They are not the same and calling them the same thing doesn’t change this.
  • On-campus vs off-campus isn’t always a clear distinctive.  There are off-campus “small groups” that function more like a class and there are on-campus “classes” that function more like a small group.
  • There are exceptions to every rule.  Read the following to get a sense for generalities, not specifics.

Click here to read more.
Source: Church Leaders