An analysis of Sunday School factors leading to effective assimilation in selected Baptist churches in Georgia
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This dissertation has explored factors within the Sunday School ministry that contribute to the process of church membership assimilation. The research addresses the reality that Sunday School is an effective tool for assimilation when executed with intention for evangelism and assimilation. The research has also addressed the strong beginnings of the Sunday School as well as the plateau and decline of the Sunday School ministry in recent history. The study begins with a review of the theological presuppositions related to the Great Commission and the church's responsibility to reach people with the gospel, baptize them into the church Body, and teach them to observe the teachings of Jesus. The process of assimilation begins with the believer's proactive response to the Great Commission by going out into their world to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. As individuals are led into a relationship with Christ then they continue in the process of assimilation into the church by getting connected to the body through meaningful relationships within the church. This study continues with literature concerning the process of assimilation in the church as well as an identification of church growth. Further study reveals the impact of small groups on psychological, sociological, and theological development of individuals and the importance of such groups within the church. With a broader understanding of the small group ministries within the church, the Sunday School ministry is examined as a vital small group ministry. The study reveals the historical roots and primary factors of the Sunday School that promote assimilation of its members into the church. Relationships are revealed throughout the literature as being very instrumental in the success of small groups within the church. Because of the nature of individuals to have a need for meaningful relationships, the small group environment becomes key in holding individuals in the church that may otherwise drift away because they feel disconnected. The Sunday School factors of Relationships, Bible Teaching, Leadership, Ministry Involvement, Care Group Ministry, Scheduling, and Children and Youth Ministry were examined in light of their importance to the process of assimilation as revealed through the precedent literature. Each of the seven Sunday School factors were then analyzed and documented along with a systematic detailing of the overall research process and data gathering process for the research concern. Results of the research were displayed according to the seven factors of the Sunday School examined and their relationship to assimilation. Relationships within the Sunday School class, effective Bible teaching and its impact on class retention, the influence of positive and effective leadership within the Sunday School class, ministry involvement and its relation to assimilating people into the church, care ministry within the Sunday School, the nuances of scheduling, and the influence of children and youth ministry were all explored in their relationship to effective assimilation as it relates to the Sunday School. Concluding remarks were presented concerning the relationship between these seven key factors within the Sunday School ministry and their effects on the process of assimilation in the church. The significance of these findings were discussed along with recommendations for Sunday School training and organization that build on the research findings. Further research relating to this topic was also suggested.