Sunday School vs. Small Groups

Right now, I’m trying to lead our Family Ministry team through a process of using the same language across our ministries. For a number of reasons, I believe this helps our parents better know what happens in our ministries at our church for their students, and makes times of transition more seamless and smooth. For us, going from Children’s Ministry to Jr. High, and even Jr. High to High School leads to different days of meeting, which can really throw a wrench in families’ schedules. Having to add in new language to understand how the new ministry works just adds to the stress families can experience during this time.

family ministry culture language


One of the key elements of the new language I am hoping our team will adopt is Small Groups. One of my favorite breakout speakers at the recent Orange Conference  was Frank Bealer, the Family Pastor at Elevation Church. During his breakout on Keeping Small Group Leaders and Parents connected, he shared a few things that stood out to me.  One thing that had particular impact was that every student and child from 3 years and up was in a Small Group.

I know for many, that’s nothing new. Many churches use this terminology.

But as our team goes through some language stuff this summer, I love the vision and mission that this change would bring to our leaders. Bottom line, a 5th grade Sunday School teacher sounds like someone more committed to teaching the Sunday School class for 5th graders. The 5th grade boys small group leader sounds like someone committed to a group of 5th grade boys. I love that idea, because I believe it leads to communicating to parents and students that we don’t just have a place for you, we have someone to partner with you.

What are your thoughts on this? What language do you use in your ministries? What value do you perceive in using either of these two terms, if any?

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