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)