Churches from the Arkansas River Valley, Faulkner, and Conway-Perry Baptist Associations met together on March 5 and 6, for a joint Sunday School teachers’ training called Teach 28:20. Over 100 participants from more than 20 churches took part in the training held at the First Baptist Church in Morrilton.
Teach 28:20 refers to the Great Commission in Matthew 28:20, where Jesus commands His disciples to “teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.” Danny Green, Associational Missionary (AM) for the Arkansas River Valley Baptist Association (RVBA) developed the concept several years ago when he first accepted the position of AM.
Green saw a need for teacher training for the churches that was “practical, doable and affordable.” He wanted to use local leaders who were gifted in their particular area, so he enlisted various age group leaders from within the association as well as members of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) to serve as speakers and break-out session leaders. Green hoped to give participants something that they could use the next day if they had to.
Originally the training was made available to the churches of the RVBA, but Green ultimately envisioned joining together with other associations. So, two years ago, the churches of the RVBA partnered with J.R. Debusk and Clear Creek Association for their first multi-association training.
For 2022, Green and the ARVBA churches partnered with Scott Miller (AM for Faulkner Baptist Association) and leaders from the Conway-Perry Association to provide a combined training with an emphasis on helping churches learn how to reclaim Sunday School as they start back after COVID. “How do I restart post-COVID?” “How do I teach?” “What curriculum do we use?” were the questions Green said they were trying to help answer.
Training began on Saturday with Allan Taylor, former Director of Sunday School and Church Education Ministry at Lifeway Christian leading a large group session. He shared insight into post-COVID Sunday school and small group revitalization.
Following the general session, participants were then able to choose from several breakout sessions for pre-school, children, students, and adults as well as sessions for pastors and general officers. Green said he considers the opportunity to share ideas with fellow teachers and leaders to be one of the highlights of these kinds of conferences.
The weekend event concluded with a celebration service at 6:00 pm on Sunday, March 6. Participants met back at First Baptist Morrilton where they were led in worship by Caleb Reynolds, Music Pastor at First Baptist Dover. Dr. J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, Executive Director of the ABSC, closed out the conference with an encouraging message from God’s Word.
Tucker said he was encouraged by what he saw, adding that he hoped others might adopt a similar approach to training their leaders in the future, “The impact of three associations coming together to train their leaders in small group ministry was tremendous. I am thankful for the vision and leadership shown in this meeting and thought that it was an incredible time of learning with a catalytic effect coming out of COVID. This evening was a powerful model for what I hope will be duplicated all over the state.”