Sunday school has been a fixture of American Christianity for many years. Since its birth during Great Britain’s industrial revolution, Sunday School has become about as sacred as pews and stained glass. In spite of its importance and high regard, we would do well to rethink the importance and place of Sunday School in today’s church.Where We’re Going in This Article
My purpose in this article is not to bash Sunday School. There’s no good in haranguing against something, especially something as undeniably positive as Sunday School! Sunday School is a practice of the Christian church that has been around for a long time, and has been used of God for immeasurable good. Millions of children have been exposed to the truth, memorized verses, sung praises, and learned to love Jesus — all in Sunday school. Sunday school doesn’t need to be bashed.
My purpose, rather, is to help us think carefully about some of the institutions and practices that we hold so dear. Oftentimes, the things we do on in our churches are just a matter of convention — it’s the way they’ve always been done. In order to stay fresh and maintain forward momentum, we need to look carefully at our ministries to see if they align with our purpose and mission in the world today. Doing so will lead to improvement.
Where we’re going in this article is to Sunday school. We’re going to see how we can improve.
Let’s Visit Sunday School
A typical Sunday school class in one of America’s 250,000 Christian churches would look something like this.
On Sunday morning, a group of kids comes into a classroom. With child-sized chairs or desks, the kids find their place. A cheerful teacher, usually a lady, greets the children as they come in. Other adults may include an assistant or two. Class begins with a word of prayer, and then a few songs. Motion songs are best!
After a few songs, it’s lesson time. Many teachers use flannelgraph or other colorful visuals to help maintain attention and to illustrate the story. Usually, the story is from the Bible — an action-packed story, applied to young lives. Themes of obedience to parents and good behavior in school are often emphasized, as is the plan of salvation.
Many Sunday school classes then have a craft time, snack time, and/or game time. Usually, the kids have been waiting eagerly for these events, and they provide a great opportunity to get the wiggles out. When Sunday school is over, it’s candy time. Kids line up at the door, crafts in hand, and receive a dum-dum sucker or tootsie roll as they rejoin their parents.That’s typical, traditional, and pretty customary for thousands of churches today. Perhaps I’ve just described your church, or maybe your childhood experience. Sunday school classes just like these are contributing to the growth of God’s kingdom. Children are learning valuable truths and growing in important ways.