Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SBTS student vs Sunday School


The following is from C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography:

Mr. Spurgeon used often to say that his best deacon was a woman,—alluding to Mrs. Bartlett. In the summer of 1859, one of the teachers of New Park Street Sunday- school was going away for a month, and asked Mrs. Bartlett to take charge of her class during her absence; but, on presenting herself at the school, the superintendent (Mr. Thomas Olney, Junr., as he was then called,) directed her to the senior class.

There were only three young women in attendance that afternoon, but in the course of the month the number had so increased that she was asked to continue as teacher. She did so, and before long the class had outgrown its accommodation, an experience Which was again and again repeated until it was finally settled in the lecture-hall of the new Tabernacle, where there were some 600 or 700 regularly present.

When Mrs. Bartlett was “called home,” in 1875, it was estimated that between 900 and 1000 members of her class had joined the church at the Tabernacle, and Mr. Spurgeon thus wrote concerning his esteemed helper:—

“Mrs. Bartlett was a choice gift from God to the church at the Tabernacle, and the influence of her life was far-reaching, stimulating many others besides those who by her means were actually led to the Savior. We miss her sadly, but her spiritual children are with us still; ‘they have stood the test of years, and the most searching test of all, namely, the loss of her motherly counsel and inspiring words. . . . . Her talk was always concerning ‘the old, old story,’ and never of new-fangled doctrines or imaginary’ attainments. She kept close to the cross, extolled her Savior, pleaded with sinners to believe, and stirred up saints to holy living. . . .

"Her addresses were always practical; never speculative, or merely entertaining. She aimed at soul winning every time she met the class, and that in the most direct and personal manner. In pursuing this object:, she was very downright, and treated things in a matter-of-fact style. . . . She had the energy of vigorous health, and yet was almost always an invalid. It cost her great effort to appear on many occasions, but then she would often succeed best, as she pleaded with her hearers, ‘as a dying woman’ to be reconciled to God. . . .

"She has met many of her spiritual children above, and others are on the way to the sweet meeting-place. We are thankful for the loan we had of such a woman, thankful that she was not sooner removed as sometimes we feared she would have been, thankful that she has left a son to perpetuate her work, and thankful, most of all, that there is such a work to be perpetuated.”

On the monument over her grave in Nunhead Cemetery, is the following inscription, which was written by Mr. Spurgeon:—

In affectionate memory of
Who departed to her blissful home,
August 21, 1875, in her 69th year.

The Pastors, Deacons, and Elders of the Church in the Metropolitan Tabernacle unite with her Class and the students of the College in erecting this memorial to her surpassing worth. She was indeed ‘a mother in Israel.’ Often did she say, Keep near the cross, my sister.’"

[Excerpts from C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, Volume 3, pages 36-38].

I do not have to extol the usefulness of the Sunday School as a means of influencing youngsters with the Word of God and to come to Christ for salvation. Its record over the years speaks for itself. You would probably have emptied Southern Baptist churches for many years past and present if you deprived them of the members who were influenced by the Sunday School to accept Christ as Savior, be baptized, and join the church.

There is a blog called "Said at Southern Seminary," but there is a disclaimer that the blog "has no official connection" with the Seminary but is "published by students of the seminary without faculty or administration oversight."

According to a chart of statistics on this blog, for the year 2006 there were 4,183,237 in attendance at 44,366 Southern Baptist Churches -- both figures being all-time highs.

Yet some folks do not seem to appreciate the Sunday School and the significant role it has played in winning the lost and in the establishing of churches. For example --

There is also another blog by an SBTS student, Matt Svoboda, called "Stay Off the Paved Road." Matt appears to be a Hybrid Calvinist, as he endorses a statement of faith which contains language to the effect that one is "born again before faith."

Matt appears to be in the "circle" of other Hybrids such as SBTS student, Timmy Brister, who has aligned himself with Flounders' leader, Tom Ascol, and promotes the "Band of Bloggers," many of whom I know to be Hybrids and advocate "born again before faith."

Here is an excerpt from what Matt Svoboda says about the Sunday School in the "comments" on the "Said at Southern Seminary" blog:

"I am glad Sunday School is on the way down. I personally believe that they are low impact. . . . If I had it my way Sunday School and Sunday Night service would cease to exist."

This is indeed a sad commentary on the current trend among some, if not many, students at Southern Seminary. Their minds are evidently being influenced by Hybrid Calvinism and its indigenous negative spirit and attitude against evangelistic methods which are designed to win souls to Christ. Many of them oppose invitations, the use of the sinner's prayer, and now here is an anti-Sunday School attitude.

I recall in the 1950s, when a group of young preachers in the Kentucky and Ohio River area led by Lasserre Bradley, Jr. went off into Hybrid Calvinism and joined the Hardshells, one of the first things they did was to denigrate Sunday Schools.

What will become of these SBTS students who are having their minds corrupted with Hybrid Calvinism?


At Thursday, May 01, 2008 1:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would take issue with your assessment of Svoboda's comment. In fact, I think you purposefully misconstrued the intent of his statement. You paint his comment in such a way as to imply that Svoboda would endorse only Sunday Morning worship and that is all. You even imply that his motivation is out of a "negative spirit and attitude against evangelistic methods" that is often, as you put it, associated with Hybrid Calvinism.

What you fail to include in your post is critical information that provides the intent/motivation of his message. Svoboda would like to see home small groups instead of Sunday School. Apparently, Svoboda thinks "home small groups are much more productive when it comes to making disciples than Sunday School." In fact, Svoboda's response to another blogger on May 1 (after your post) proves my point. He states, "There are pros and cons of both (Home Groups & Sunday School). I just seem to like the ‘in-home cell group’ more."

While your dissected construction of Svoboda's comment was complete overstatement, I can appreciate Svoboda's desire to make disciples. I would hope and pray that we would all have this desire.

At Thursday, May 01, 2008 7:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those denigrating Sunday School should consult the writings of Thom Rainer who was the founding Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at SBTS -- established through the leadership of Albert Mohler -- and has demontrated the important role Sunday School has for evangelism and membership retention in growing and effective churches.

Giant Awakenings: Making the Most of 9 Surprising Trends that Can Benefit Your Church (Broadman & Holman 1994)

Effective Evangelistic Churches: Successful Churches Reveal What Works and What Doesn't (Broadman & Holman 1996)

High Expectations: The Remarkable Secret for Keeping People in Your Church (Broadman & Holman 1999)

Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them (Zondervan 2001)

Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the Leap (Zondervan 2005)

Furthermore, those concerned about membership matters may find the answer in an effective use of Sunday School.

Surely everyone wants his or her church to be effective. Right?


At Friday, May 02, 2008 11:13:00 AM, Blogger Charles said...

Adam Davis, Hello!

Svoboda's statement speaks for itself. It's typical of Southern Seminary students such as Timmy Brister and others, they gleefully accept the tutition discounts which Southern Baptists churches provide for them, then they turn around around and trash those same churches.


At Friday, May 02, 2008 4:13:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


Adam Davis said...

Svoboda would like to see home small groups instead of Sunday School. Apparently, Svoboda thinks "home small groups are much more productive when it comes to making disciples than Sunday School."

I think Matt should show his faith by his works, and if he can make home groups more productive in winning souls to Christ than Sunday Schools, who could protest?

It seems that there is no shortage of folks who profess to have a "better idea" or a "better way."

In Matt's case, what remains to be seen is the demonstrative evidence which verifies that home groups are "much more productive when it comes to making disciples than Sunday School."


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