Sunday School Class Basics: Open or Closed Groups
One of the most fundamental questions we have to answer is whether we are going to be an open or closed group. Let me first define these terms then show you the benefit of both and why for our Sunday School ministry at FBC our groups will be in an open format.
Most simply a closed group is any Bible study group which has a set membership list. It is not reaching out to add new members to its role. Benefits of a closed group include deep accountability, close intimacy, and enduring friendship. Every growing Christian should be a part of some closed group because I would simply call a closed group a mentoring relationship. These type groups function in groups of 2-5 people and involve some kind of agreement among one another that the members of that group are going to be vulnerable with one another and are going to be honest enough with one another to hold each other in accountability. As you have heard before, every Christian should have a Paul (someone mentoring them), a Timothy (someone you are mentoring), and a Barnabas (someone who encourages you).
An open group is, therefore, a Bible study group which has an open membership, meaning they are intentionally reaching out for others to join in. These groups should still strive to have accountability, and vulnerability, though it will be an ongoing challenge as the group continues to change. The function of an open Bible study group, beyond the main point of studying Scripture, is to also help the church in the assimilation of new members into the broader work of the Church. As you begin to learn more about your group you will be encouraging them to get plugged into other areas of ministry, as well as training some who will eventually lead their own open Bible study group. Sunday School at FBC serves as a vital cog in our ministry that without her we will struggle to find skilled volunteers to serve the community through our ministries. The result of a breakdown in Sunday School would lead to fewer and fewer individuals doing more and more of the share of work, while others look on and wonder why no one ever asked them to help.