Why Is Sunday School Important?

Rally Day is coming up and I am just stumped again with how to communicate the importance of Sunday School. Usually we have a great start to Sunday School, but by the end of the year almost every ounce of energy is sapped from the kids and the teachers, and we breathe a big sigh of relief when it is over and we don’t have to feel bad about five kids showing up.

So why IS it important? Why WOULD parents get up pretty early on Sunday to herd their kids to Sunday School? Is there a Bible verse that says they should? Is it really going to make a difference in their kid’s life?

Of course there is no “law” about going to Sunday School. Sunday School was an invention of the 19th Century English church as a way of educating the children of the industrial revolution who worked all week in the factories and couldn’t go to school. The church saw that children were not learning how to read and write and so they established “Sunday Schools” where children would go and learn to read – in this case – the Bible! Even after the government made school compulsory for children during the week, the tradition of teaching the Bible on Sundays continued.

So… if it is not in the Bible and the church survived and grew for almost 1800 years without it, why do we think it is important today?

Consider these thoughts:

Biblical Illiteracy. People who call themselves Christians today are knowing less and less about the Bible. They simply have never read it – either as a child or as an adult. The reality is that the Christian faith is based on the revealed will and truth of God in the Scriptures. If we do not have exposure to it – our faith is in jeopardy.

Speaking the Faith. Sunday School is an important place where we learn not only about the Scripture, but how to speak the faith. To say that precious name of “Jesus” (apart from cursing), to sing songs to His name, to say the word “Trinity”, “Sin”, “Repent”, “Grace”, “Forgiveness”, and discuss what it all means for us – these are incredibly important to internalizing the faith and applying it to our lives. We need all the practice we can get so that we might not only know it better for ourselves, but also be able to share that Word of God with others.

Imitating the Faith. The Bible clearly states that mentoring is an important ingredient to growing in the Christian faith. Where ARE the Christian role models of Grace and forgives and upright living that our children know? They are getting to be fewer and fewer in their everyday life – if there are any at all. It is in Sunday School that our children can have a chance to see that there are beautiful and upright Christians whose lives are blessed. It is at Sunday School (a lot more than if the child simply attended worship and sat quietly) that a child can have the opportunity to imitate the life and faith of their teacher.

Knowing other Christians. Closely related to the above statement, it is just so important these days for children (and adults) to have Christian friends. It is simply a fact of life that without the encouragement and fellowship of the saints, our faith is so easily twisted and maligned in our hearts and minds. Without Christian friends our children will grow and never know that God’s church is their true family, a place of refuge and grace, a communion made holy by the blood of Christ.

We all know plenty of adults who went to Sunday School and who have fallen away from the faith. We might even know faithful Christians today who never went to Sunday School as a kid. Regular attendance at Sunday School does not guarantee that your child will always hold to the Faith (there are many other important elements to growing in the faith – most important is the Christian example, teaching and testimony of a child’s parents – that means YOU.) But if you ever did talk with an adult Christian whose parents did not bring them to Sunday School, they will most often express their deepest regrets.

Ultimately, Sunday School attendance is just like anything else in the church – a matter of the devoted heart. If you have been touched by the love Jesus, if your sins are forgiven and the gates of heaven opened for you, if He is your Savior – you will want to be where He is spoken of, where His people are, where His Word of Grace and love abound. You will know that Sunday School has eternal benefits. You will want it all for yourself – and your children.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:4-5, ESV)

What will it Mean for the Church if Gay Marriage is Legalized?

Lots of folks have tried to predict what will happen to our nation, our families, and our society as a whole if the Supreme Court comes down with a decision this week that will effectively eliminate any government restrictions on gay marriage. It is very difficult to predict precisely and I don’t think that ALL the fears and trepidations of Christians who are scripturally bound are valid. Not much will change overnight. And it could be said that even the lives of those gay couples who do get married won’t even change that much – as so many of them live as married currently. Any change on our lives will likely be gradual and not very noticeable (just the way the Devil wants it)

But what will this mean for the CHURCH? Will such a ruling by the Supreme Court have any affect on it?

I don’t think that there will be any discernible short term affect on the church. We have been dealing with this issue for quite a few years. Lines have been drawn and people have lined up for their “team” already. I don’t think anyone is thinking that a church opposed to gay marriage is going to have to change anything by law in its teachings or practices (in the short term that is.)

But what about the future? The real cause for concern is the future. I don’t think anyone would dispute that this issue of marriage is going to put a lot of pressure on the Christians in the years ahead. In another 10 or 20 years is ANYONE going to be brave enough to stand the ridicule of the whole society around us? Who will follow Jesus? Who will be faithful?

It is astounding that in just a VERY few years the general consensus of this nation on the issue of same sex marriage has been almost completely reversed. What we are finding is that people today have been completely stripped of any capacity to think critically with our eyes fixed on Jesus and His Word. Our whole sense of realty has been warped beyond recognition.

If you are a Christian today – it is most definitely time to don that full armor of God!

The Amazing Future that I am not Looking Forward to.

More and more in the news we are reading about these revolutionary new devices called “3D Printers” which are sci-fi machines that can literally “print” anything you want (well, obviously, with some limitations!) NASA is trying out machines that will even “print” food that is made from a “recipe” of powdered materials that can be stored indefinitely on long distance space flights! This morning I am also reading about a new material being developed that is ONE MOLECULE thick but is so incredibly strong that it will not break even if you sat an elephant on the eraser end of a pencil and balanced the pencil point on a sheet of it.

As a huge fan of science and technology I find developments like this to be so very fascinating and amazing. But as fascinating as the science really is, the repercussions might not be so amazing for the health of our human race in general. It could be argued that up until recently, technology as done much to advance the (overall) quality of our lives. No one really is so sad they didn’t live 100 years ago. However, the prospect (that is even now beginning to envelope us) is a society and world in which our lives are so automated that there is literally no work for vast segments of the population. In the past decade we have seen the middle class in our country shrink dramatically while the great divide between the rich and poor grows even wider. Factory jobs are being displaced by robots. Secretaries are being replaced by iPhones. Yesterday I stopped at a large, new convenience store with four automated checkouts! There was ONE attendant who stood there at the counter with a spray bottle making sure it was clean.

Just think a few years down the road when you get your new-fangled 3D printer… if you need a ping pong ball to play a game, or a flower pot for the front porch, or a nice little toy for your nephew’s birthday – you won’t need to go to the store. You can just download a data file, press “Print” and a few minutes later it will be presented to you – exactly the way you wanted it! First we said good bye to the neighborhood hardware store. Next we will say good bye to Walmart! We lost a lot of livelihoods in the first round. How many more in the second round? And if you think that is bad, just imagine the potential social unrest that will develop in China when a billion people don’t have even their low end factory jobs filling Walmart shelves?

And so what does this mean for our church and ministry? What does it mean for Christians in general?

I think mostly it means that there will be an incredible amount of people who are going to be without any hope and meaning for their lives. They will be everywhere. As our economy evolves (or devolves), those who are not skilled or gifted with intelligence appropriate for our advanced workplaces, are going to continue to be marginalized, beaten down, and unable to find meaningful employment. It means that many Christians are going to have to learn how to be blessed in their poverty. It means that Christians who are blessed with resources are going to have to learn to be humble and discover that it really is a blessing to share. It means that the church has to learn how to speak EFFECTIVELY to the marginalized and those without hope. And finally it means that the church has the chance to define and share what it means to have a true and beautiful hope in the Lord Jesus – a hope that is not of this world… a hope that just does NOT come out of a 3D printer!

Let’s put on that Armor of God and take up that Sword of His Word, girding ourselves with the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, and the helmet of salvation. We will need it because we are in for an incredible ride!