3 Reasons Why Sunday School Will Make a Comeback

Years ago Dr. Ken Hemphill wrote a book by the title, Revitalizing The Sunday Morning Dinosaur, A book on bringing new life to the Sunday School. The very title conveyed that a challenge existed in the ministry that so many of us grew up with.

Many of us were saved because of the influence of a Sunday School teacher. We memorized Scripture, learned the order of the books of the Bible, and developed a love for the stories of Bible characters through the ministry of Sunday School. In fact, many of the pastors and leaders in our churches today were deeply involved in Sunday School…it’s helped make them who they are today.

So what is the future of the Sunday School? Has it seen its day? Is it still relevant? Or should we eulogize it and bury it alongside other strategies that we no longer employ?

I believe that Sunday School is going to make a comeback. Here are 3 reasons why we shouldn’t pull the plug on it just yet:

1. People aren’t getting less busy. Sunday School works as a Bible teaching strategy because it allows busy families to attend worship and Bible study at a time that is convenient for everyone in the family. Busy families will struggle to attend worship on a Sunday morning and then set aside another night for small-group study during the week. Kids need that night for ball practice, homework, or rest. Sociologists say that we are all living “time compressed lives,” and Sunday School is a great solution that frees up families’ time during the week.

2. Every member of the family has a consistent teacher/group leader. In a Sunday School ministry, people are placed in groups by age or life stage. The homogeneity principle comes into play; we place people in proximity to people similar to them under the leadership of a dedicated spiritual leader. Teachers are trained to lead a specific age group or type of person, and they typically do so one year at a time. In a Sunday School strategy, continuity becomes a major plus for families…teachers/leaders build relationships with group members throughout the year. Families learn to count on the help of teachers in teaching biblical truth to their family members.

3. Sunday School is still a cultural phenomenon with a history of doing good things. Call it what you will: LIFE Groups, Adult Bible Fellowship, Connect Groups, and a myriad of other names, Sunday School (that ministry that meets at a time adjacent to the worship service) is still widely regarded positively by members and guests. Yes, in many churches Sunday School is in need of a facelift, an overhaul, or a tune-up, but not an implosion. People who do (and would) attend know that Sunday School is trying hard to teach God’s Word, minister to their family members, and make a difference in the lives of people, and doing so with an army of volunteers.

Sunday School isn’t dead…don’t let anyone tell you differently! In the days ahead, churches who have the facilities and trained leaders to have a Sunday School will see it become more important to families as they try to stay strong in a culture that doesn’t share the biblical values they hold dear.

3 comments

  1. Thanks Ken!

    Quick question. Do you know of any good resources concerning doing evaluations of Sunday School (for individual teachers in particular) or particular churches that do this well? Our church will be working together through facets of Transformational Church this summer and the TC survey in the fall, so it seemed fitting to get specific feedback from teachers going into it. Thanks!

    Benji Thomas Minister of Education and Missions First Baptist Church Lebanon, TN

  2. The success or failure of Sunday School depends entirely on the instructor. If the classes are failing, place the blame right where it belongs: the instructor.

    As a child, my dear mother forced me to attend Sunday School. I hated it. None of the lessons made any sense at all and no matter who taught the class (and we had a myriad of teachers) the hour ended in some obscure, indecipherable spiritual lesson that could not be applied to daily living no matter how anyone tried to force it to fit. I endured this for three years. When I asked why Jesus was crucified, no one could explain it to me. I was about 10 years old at the time and fairly bright.

    Mom finally gave me a break and I never returned to church services until I well over 50 years old. I ran into a pastor and his wife who were ex-missionaries from Africa (over 10 years in Africa) and who were able to answer my questions and lead me to accept the Lord into my life.

    Please pardon my digression.

    Families are busier than ever and Sunday School takes time; this is time that no one has to spare. So, if you’re going to go to Sunday School, the class better be worth it. Therefore, have your students grade the class anonymously. Also have them write down three things that they remember from class and see how their memory corresponds to the instructor’s lesson. You’ll be amazed at the results.

    I’ve seen a lot of people who want to teach Sunday School. Most of these folks are in love with the sound of their own voice. Others are shouldering an obligation. There are a few that will actually teach.

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