For as long as I can remember, Sunday School has been a part of my life. My mother tells me that I was attending Sunday School nine months before I was born. My gradeschool Bible, the one that I thought I lost years ago, was given back to me by my dad before he died 4 years ago (he’d held onto it through the years and I never knew he had it). This special little children’s Bible was the one I was using when I was saved at the age of 10 at Plymouth Park Baptist Church in Irving, Texas. Today it sits on the shelf in my office along with other Bibles that have been important to me over the years. As I ponder my early life, I am so thankful that Sunday School was a part of it. I am thankful that men and women have been teaching the Bible through this “missionary movement” as David Francis calls it, for over 200 years. I am a product of several great Sunday Schools. This is why a large part of my life has been dedicated to helping churches build healthier, growing Sunday Schools all for God’s glory…because I am who I am today to a large extent because of untold men and women who invested in me over the years by teaching me God’s Word. Here are a few of my favorite Sunday School teachers and the reasons why I’m thankful for them and the ministry of Sunday School.
Les Cochran – Les was my high school Sunday School teacher at Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, TX. Mr. Cochran was steady…he was dependable…he was in class every Sunday, ready to teach our class of boys the Word of God. Once a year he took time to take us up in his small Cesna-like airplane after church on a particular Sunday. He also was involved in the church’s softball ministry to which I belonged. After one particular game, I left a few minutes ahead of him. I made a left-hand turn at the intersection by the softball fields, only to be broadsided by a large pickup truck. My card was totaled…the damage was severe, and I was pretty banged up myself (these were the days when no one wore seatbelts). I remember running from the scene of the accident to borrow a neighbor’s phone to call the police. Mr. Cochran pulled up not long after the accident took place, stayed with me, and followed the wrecker to my house to speak to my father, hoping to keep him calm and in his right mind. I will never forget that act of kindness from my Sunday School teacher…he didn’t have to do that…he wanted to do that.
Randy Wallace – although Randy wasn’t my Sunday School teacher, he was the Minister of Youth at Tate Springs Baptist Church when my wife and I volunteered to teach an 8th grade girls’ Sunday School class. Randy taught me that Sunday School was important and that teaching God’s Word was serious business, so he held a weekly teacher’s meeting to help us prepare to teach the upcoming Sunday School lesson. Everything that he did to lead the student ministry centered around the ministry of Sunday School…every student was funneled there no matter how they came into the student ministry. When I first became a teacher to those 8th grade girls, I needed a lot of help to become the best teacher I could be, and Randy’s weekly teacher’s meetings helped me get a jump start on my teaching ministry. He taught all of us sound, essential, Sunday School basics each week as we gathered together for his Sunday afternoon teacher’s meetings. My practice of having weekly leadership meetings when I was called to serve 2 churches as the minister of education no doubt came from Randy’s influence on me, and there is no telling how many sessions I’ve led over the years, and how many countless teachers received weekly training because of Randy’s influence on me.
Ray and Tina Rogers – This husband and wife duo have been great friends over the years, and back in the day when I was a student pastor, they were two of my biggest supporters, teaching in the student ministry that I was privileged to lead. I am thankful for their positive encouragement, and for their friendship to my wife and I. Tina frequently went above and beyond the call of duty with the students she and Ray taught, investing herself in them throughout the week (she and Ray both knew that Sunday School didn’t stop on Sunday mornings). They were at lockouts, lockins, ski trips, summer camps, and everything else in between.
There are many more teachers with whom I still have great relationships long after my time of service at a church has ended. Many were more than just teachers…they became close friends. I am thankful for Sunday School because through it I learned the books of the Bible. I was taught sound doctrine at age-appropriate ways and ultimately through the Sunday School lessons and caring, observant teachers, I surrendered my life to Christ and accepted His offer of forgiveness. Through Sunday School I have been privileged to lead hundreds of teachers of men, women, boys, and girls and together we have made an impact for the Kingdom of God. Yes, I love Sunday School, but I really love the men and women with whom I’ve served, and I love the ones who served me by being my teachers throughout the years. I wish I knew how to contact them so that I could let them know I’ve turned out o.k. They’d probably be thrilled to know that God has placed me in a leadership position at LifeWay Christian Resources from which I can influence the Bible study of millions of adult learners each week. What an amazing God we serve!
I hope your memories of Sunday School are just as vivid and positive as mine are. Be sure to thank the teachers who teach you and your children each week. So many times they are the thankless ones in our churches. In this week of thanksgiving, don’t forget to show thanks to the men and women who teach the many members of your family.