This study was on the impact of Sunday school on church growth. Three objectives were raised which included: To examine how to use Sunday school campaigns in motivating and strengthening backsliding church members, to determine the rate of church growth attained during Sunday school campaigns and to ascertain the growth between the Sunday school attendance and the members of the church. A total of 77 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents were drawn from deeper life bible church in Rivers state. Hypothesis was tested using Chi-Square statistical tool (SPSS).
1.1Background of the study
Many orthodox churches, including some Pentecostal churches in the twenty-first century, have long valued Sunday school. Christian education has been a key component of the Church of God movement since its founding in the 18th century. The Sunday school is one of the most obvious ways that Christian education has impacted the Church of God. For many years, the Sunday school has been an important part of congregational life and, in a broader sense, the movement’s national organizational structure (Phil Stone 2006). A local church’s Sunday school program essentially consists of small groups that teach religion. Sunday school does not provide grades or transcripts like other accredited educational institutions do. The emphasis is on people’s education, preparation, and equipping. Nicholson elaborates that Sunday school aims to provide useful instruction regarding Christian doctrine in his book, God’s Shepherds and Sheep (Stephen, 2010, p.78).
The foundation of the structure and the mortar that ties the bricks together are how Stephen (2006) characterizes Sunday school. Through this approach, the people are taught the Bible in a methodical manner. Thom Rainer identified seven primary methods and programs that contribute the most to effective assimilation, according to Dr. Darren W. Thomas, who cited Rainer in his book “the role, history, and decline of the Sunday school”: special events, weekday ministries, recreational activities, youth programs, preschool programs, Sunday school, and children’s programs. He claimed that of all of these strategies and initiatives for shutting the back door of the church and integrating newcomers into the community, Rainer’s research showed that the Sunday school was the most successful. Even 200 years after it began, the Sunday school ministry is still one of the most effective methods for evangelizing and successfully integrating individuals into church life. According to Thom Rainer, one of the most important methods for instructing adults and children about the breadth of the Bible over the past 200 years has been Sunday school. According to experts, Sunday school is still effective.
Dr. Darren W. Thomas also mentioned Harry Piland, who agrees that the Sunday school is essential to a church’s ability to carry out its mission. The Sunday School is at the core of the church’s mission since the Scriptures make clear the nature and purpose of a church, as well as the importance of the Bible in Sunday school. It is a serious issue, not a little side concern, and it is central. He also brought up Dr. George W. Bailey, who served as the president of the World Sunday School Association from 1910 to 1913, and who stated that the purpose of Sunday school was to “place the open Bible into the open hand of every opening heart that is stimulated by life from God.”. Even with its proven track record of success, Sunday school still has its detractors who argue that it is no longer necessary as a church outreach and assimilation ministry. This discussion of its applicability is not brand-new. The question comes up with each new generation, and with each new generation, the answer is obvious—Sunday school is still useful.
Despite the fact that the Sunday school is one of the most effective facilitators of church growth, it has long been recognized and contested that this is also supported by the study. Praise and worship music, sermons, altar calls, prayer, and Sunday school are all elements of the worship experience that come together to form a whole service. The speaker uses signs and marvels to illustrate how the word of God descends like fire and hammer to break the human heart, which is as hard as rock. Worshipers have unsolved questions in their minds. Thus, Sunday school was created as a platform where such an issue might be explored. A component of the church’s Christian education program is the Sunday school. It is intended to instruct both believers and atheists on the authority of God’s word. This could occur either before or after the day’s sermon. The need for people to receive instruction in the Bible is made clear by reading the scripture. Jesus Christ was a master teacher who gave His disciple the mission to instruct all peoples. Thus, the Holy Spirit influences God’s children to be as magnificent people as found in the Bible through a church’s Sunday school program. According to the researcher, one of the important church activities that God has decided to use in fostering church growth is the training and equipping that take place when Christians gather to study God’s word together.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Assemblies of God church has always been noted for scheduling Sunday school lessons for kids, teenagers, adults, and senior citizens every Sunday morning, from the general council to the tiniest branch in Ikwerre. The expansion of the church, like personal spiritual growth, is ultimately divine in origin despite the fact that there are various human means, some of which are deceptive, that may be employed to draw a large number of people into a church structure. Without the intervention of the Sovereign God, no one is able to bring about spiritual development in the Body of Christ. Growth, however, is not merely something supernatural that God does on His own. Without a collaborative effort between God, the church leadership, the congregation, and the leader, growth in the local church cannot occur (Blomberg 2002:34). Since certain churches in Nigeria appear to be more thriving and in good health than other churches. Some pastors are unsure of what to do when they see other churches expanding faster than their own. They want the expansion of their own churches, though sometimes not for the proper reasons, and yet they have no idea how to duplicate the growth of other churches in their own churches. Other religious leaders are content to continue leading their own small group of followers, saying that “whenever two or three are gathered in the name of the Lord, He is there among them” (Matthew 18:20) Some pastors have the opinion that it doesn’t really matter how many people show up for church services; as long as there is any attendance (at all), everything will be OK. These leaders appear to think that only divine providence can bring about church development. They frequently believe that since everything is in God’s hands, there isn’t much a church leader can do to promote church growth.The above motivated this research to see if this is true, and to discover whether there are factors, such as a healthy Sunday school campaigns that contributes to church growth.
1.3 Aims/Objectives of the Study
The primary aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of Sunday school campaigns to the growth of the church. To achieve this primary aim the following sub objectives will be carefully consideration.
- To examine how to use Sunday school campaigns in motivating and strengthening backsliding church members
- To determine the rate of church growth attained during Sunday school campaigns
- To ascertain the growth between the Sunday school attendance and the members of the church.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses will guide the study;
H1: there is no rate of church growth attained during Sunday school campaigns
H2: there is no growth between the Sunday school attendance and the members of the church
1.5 Significant of the Study
This study will help church leaders to improve on the existing mode of Sunday school campaigns in their various church.
It will also motivate church overseers, pastors, and other arms in the church to work at having a well-organized and administered Sunday school campaigns that can give an assurance to the growth of their church.
The findings of this study will also serve as a reference materials to scholars and academia who intends to embark on a study on this nature in future.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is confined to deeper life church in Rivers state, Nigeria. This research will be carried out mainly using the deeper life church in Rivers state as a case study and it will be centered mainly on the children, teenagers, and the adult’s ministries of the church.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
Not all the churches in Nigeria conduct Sunday school every Sunday, but there are some, which do, this study, is limited to deeper life church, Rivers state where there is witness that there is assurance of the existence of Sunday school. Due to inability of time to ensure effective coverage and record keeping that are up to date to ensure that the study is effectively carried out the limitation of the study to Sunday school in deeper life Bible church[email protected][email protected]