The Changing Shape of Sunday School Literature

sunday schoolAs a former Minister of Education, I knew that every quarter I had to make a purchase from LifeWay Christian Resources for our church’s Sunday School literature.

From youngest of ones through the senior adult classes (or as I liked to called it, from womb to the tomb), I had to purchase the “quarterlies” along with the various teacher’s guides.  This was a sizable part of our annual discipleship budget.  Thousands of dollars every year was spent to buy literature.

The material would arrive in a large shipment from Lebanon, TN and then I would organize all the material in the appropriate classrooms or give the quarterlies to the teachers.  This process went on like clock work year after year.

Fast forward to 2013.  In the past couple months, I’ve had several interesting discussions with key leaders in various Christian publishing companies about the future of Sunday School literature. They are telling me that the old system is simply not the case any longer.

With free curricula and teaching materials proliferating the internet and discipleship groups happening in homes, at work, at church on all days of the week including Sunday, Christian publishers are looking at a whole new way of thinking about literature.

One prominent leader said, “What happened to the music industry 10 years ago with iTunes and downloading mp3s is now happening in Christian publishing and literature.”

As a professor of Educational Ministries training 18-22 year olds in the methods and principles of classical Christian Education for youth, children, adults, small groups and other types of teaching ministries, the new world of Christian publishing is opening all kinds of avenues of ministry for them.

Such as:

  • Writing and posting your own Bible study materials on your blog or website without being accepted or sponsored by a Christian publishing house.
  • Blessing people and churches in far-reaching locations, who have access to the internet, but not the finances to purchase material.
  • Writing Bible study material for your church and then distributing it to them so the whole body can be studying the same thing at the same time.
  • Customizing the teaching ministry of your church with your people in mind, not buying materials that are made for the masses.

Last conclusion.  Outside of leading people to Jesus, worshipping the Lord in Spirit and truth, and teaching and preaching the Word, there are no ministry strategies that will remain in place forever.  Methods constantly change.  Paradigms of doing things always change.  People, culture, churches are always changing.  Even the Christian publishing world is changing.

I believe that is a good thing.

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