Lots of things about church culture have changed over the years. One of those changes includes Sunday school. I remember when churches used to have Sunday school regularly. Teachers would dive deep into the Word and what it meant. But now, although some churches do still have this ministry, it’s not as common.
But no matter what methods come and go in the church, one thing stays the same: Jesus Christ. That was the overarching principle of several dreams Dr. Elmer Towns had recently. Towns was a co-founder of Liberty University and author of many Christian books. I invited him on my podcast recently to talk about the profound dreams God gave him over the years and how they speak to the future of the church and evangelism today.
Towns says he had three dreams in one night, each one about a different decade. The first was about the 1950s and it was about Sunday school. Towns says he normally doesn’t remember his dreams, but this one was different. He describes it as “kind of like a television program that you’re not really interested in.” Everything in his dream seemed inconsequential and boring, but he dreamed about writing The 10 Largest Sunday Schools, which he originally wrote and released in 1969.
“God said to me, ‘Elmer, it’s not the method. You put a lot of emphasis on the method. It’s not the method. It’s those Sunday school teachers in churches all over the country—dedicated people talking about Jesus. That’s what made the great Sunday schools,'” he says.
The second dream was about the 1960s and showed Towns how the church was using Sunday school busing. At the time, God was using influential men like Jerry Falwell (the other co-founder of Liberty University) to buy hundreds of buses that would pick people up and bring them to church.
But God told Towns in the dream, “It’s not those rickety old buses that will work. It’s the faith of those lay people who got up and went by house to house, brought in children, put them on the buses, fed them many times, brought them to Sunday school and got the Word of God into their hearts, and they were born again.”
The third dream was about what Towns calls “saturation evangelism,” which involves using every means possible to spread the gospel. He specifically dreamed about television. Unsurprisingly, God began using television in huge ways at that time to bring the gospel straight into people’s homes.
And yet, once again, God told Towns: “It wasn’t the television. It wasn’t the singing. It wasn’t the preaching. It was My Word, My Word going through that television screen. And My Word captured people all over the world. And it prospered because it’s My Word.”
God showed him that contemporary worship was the next method He used to bring people closer to Himself. And now, Towns believes God will continue to be using multisite churches in a fresh and innovative way.
But Towns warns the church of today with the words God spoke to his heart: “It’s not the methods. It’s My Word, it’s My message, it’s Jesus that’s changing the world.”
I couldn’t agree more. Towns’ focus on Jesus being all that matters is something each of us should remember. His prophetic dreams are also an important reminder that God still speaks to His people through dreams—and He can speak to you that way too!
Towns shared many more fascinating things he sees God doing in the United States and around the world in my podcast with him, so make sure you listen to it!