October 23, 2016
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"A pastor who yearns to reach more people for Christ should consider the Sunday School as a resultful means. A pastor who is seeking places of service for church members should study and build his Sunday School. A pastor who is eager to keep the work of the church centered upon Bible study, evangelism, and enlistment should make the greatest possible use of the Sunday School." (J. N. Barnette, A Church Using its Sunday School, p.73)

This statement expresses the heartbeat of the S-T-A-R-T process for Tennessee Baptist churches.

Pastor, this is a simple and practical means to encourage, equip, and engage Sunday School leaders and classes to impact your community with the gospel through a missionary-minded Sunday School ministry.

START encompasses these 5 steps:
S—ee the class differently
T—hink like a missionary to the community
A—dopt a plan
R—ecruit and train the team
T—ake actions to launch

Pastor, the START process will enable you to:

  • Lead the church to focus (or refocus) on a life-changing Sunday School
  • Train Adult and Youth Sunday School leaders to lead classes to intentionally plan and take actions that impact the community with the Gospel
  • Engage members in using their spiritual gifts, abilities, and ministry passions to reach lost people and disciple them
  • Help classes go "beyond the walls" to plant a new 1-5-1 Harvest Branch Plants that reaches the lost

START is NOT just something else to do or another project to be carried out—it is a means for igniting a new spirit, a new understanding, and a new course of action for Sunday School and consequently, for the church. For more information about START, contact Mark Miller at mmiller@tnbaptist.org or Heather Beard at hbeard@tnbaptist.org.


Pastors, Sunday School Directors, Ministers of Education, Associational Sunday School Leaders—You should have received in the mail a START Planning Guide and START CD. (If not, a copy of the START Planning Guide and a link to request the START CD are at the top of this page, under Resources.)

Open your START envelope:

1. Read the letter.

2. Peruse the Planning Guide which gives an overview of the elements that comprise the START Emphasis:

  • Rally
  • Sermon series
  • LIFE lessons
  • Training for Sunday School and group leaders
  • Celebration/Launch Sundays
  • Optional attendance/enrollment emphasis

Prayerfully consider each element of the START emphasis. Each START element is designed to help you lead your Sunday School to stop doing Sunday School as usual and to START leading your Sunday School members to get on their knees, in the Word, and on their feet for the sake of the Gospel.

3. Examine the document START CD Contents Suggestions for Use. This document provides insight into each item on the CD.

4. Open each folder on the START CD. Scan the START Rally Outline for Pastors. Watch the rally videos. Look at each training session's PowerPoints and teaching plans. Read the email and newsletter articles. Consider the sermons. Read the lessons. Think about what you could celebrate and launch.

5. Dream about the potential impact of START on your Sunday School, your church and your community.

It's time to START—re-ignite your Sunday School as a strategy not just a program. It's time to START—re-focus your Sunday School on the fields that are white unto harvest.

New people will be reached, more people baptized, more Bible study groups started, more leaders equipped and sent out, and more lives changed.

To God be the Glory!


Copyright (c) 2016 Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention