Sunday school: two words that bring memories of struggles with getting enough volunteers and trying to get parents involved but also two words that evoke some pretty happy memories of years past from my own experiece as a child and as a parent with three young boys.
So what are we to do in today's congregations to encourage this once dynamic ministry model to include all the ages in a whole new way?
For the time being, I'd like to submit my Ten Top Reasons to Not Kill Sunday School quite yet:
- Death is permanent. Resurrection, renaming, reclaiming the way its’ done makes more sense.
- Kill sounds like a sentence to carry out. The history of Sunday school alone affirms it had and continues to have a valuable place in the congregation.
- This is one of the few places where lay persons get involved, equipped, and get tools to grow in their faith in leadership roles. If it’s gone, and decisions remain in the sole hands of the ordained, what will become of Christian education? What about the body? How does it recognize the sense of a call?
- Want a new name? Christian education is the heart of the church. Just call it what it is and go from there. Start with Faith Formation.
- It’s not really dying. It is in true need of a little care and attention from church leadership. A new look and way to do it would help too.
- Most pastors have not attended nor do they participate in Sunday school. It normally means Children’s Ministry, an important place (if not the most important place) to start! Shouldn’t there be a requirement to go for a while and experience it first before you kill it?
- Seminaries require a minimum of one Christian ed course to earn a divinity degree. Doesn’t that mean it has very little priority? Let’s rethink how we teach in seminaries.
- Google “Sunday school” and you will encounter hundreds of faith-based resources and publishing companies providing tools to teach the Christian faith. People continue to seek the resources. They know Sunday school means Christian education.
- If you told the average lay person sitting in the pew on a Sunday morning that you were going to kill Sunday school, they’d be in shock. Most know no other terminology. For some it would be evoking powerful memories and may be the very reason they are sitting there in the first place.
- It’s the number one place in the congregation where adults of all ages are role models for the young. It provides a place for the lay to feel called. The relationships built there are lifelong and vibrant. Think twice before you kill the one thing that can actually grow the church!
What do you think?