Christian Formation – Christian Education – Sunday School
There has been a lot of discussion in St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church recently about the necessity of Sunday school.
Sunday schools may seem like “old hat” to some churches but according to Barna Research, 95% of churches still offer some type of classroom Bible and religious teaching– and for good reason. Barna says, “In a culture saturated with change, one of the most stable aspects in the religious sphere has been Sunday school – the weekend educational efforts that Protestant churches offer to people outside of worship services.” Why? More than ever before, people need a counterweight to the massive cultural shifts that modern societies are now experiencing. More specifically, children need Sunday school ministry for these five reasons.
- Sunday school helps children respect, appreciate and utilize the Bible, understand their baptismal vows and learn to live in community. Reverence for God’s written words and what was promised at your child’s baptism doesn’t come naturally, sadly. A healthy Sunday classroom environment, centered around the Bible and our Baptismal Vows, will elevate its importance in a child’s life.
- Sunday school teaches children how to navigate the Bible and life as a Christian. If a child joins the Scouts, the Scoutmaster doesn’t hand him a 400 page map and say, “Good luck!” Sunday school teachers don’t just teach Bible stories, they show a child how the Bible speaks to them in their lives and empowers them to live out their Baptismal vows.
- Sunday school gives kids a chance to ask questions. Kids’ church isn’t designed for a detailed Q & A session but Sunday classes can. Sunday school is the perfect format for in-depth discussion, even debate. This format allows teachers to give kids more good food for thought.
- Sunday school develops a community of believers. Why do you think schools use the classroom method? Not just to reach more children, faster. Originally, it was because in a classroom setting, kids were more likely to help one another and push each other along in their growth. A community of children, worshiping, learning the Bible and discovering God together creates a bond that single study can’t accomplish. As someone once said, Sunday schools are the Petri dishes for the future church.
- Sunday school plants spiritual seeds. Some of my greatest revelations concerning God’s love and plan for me I received quietly in my training in Hebrew school. Even when we moved away from that loving community of believers, I never forgot the songs, the lessons and the love. Sunday schools are like plant nurseries, they may look unimpressive at first, but under the soil, miracles are happening.
We need your child in Sunday school.
We need our adults in Sunday school.
If we intend to prepare the next generation of children to follow Christ faithfully and advance the Kingdom forcefully, they will need their parents and the adults of this faith community who are being well trained for this awesome responsibility by word, deed and example. The effective adult Sunday school class is a place where people can learn and respond to the word of God in a systematic and consistent process, develop a network of strong and supportive relationships to encourage them during the victories and the difficult times, and reach other people with a gospel message that will impact their children as well.
If you go to the following website, you will find many an article on the importance of christian formation for all ages in The Episcopal church: https://buildingthecontinuum.wordpress.com.
Worship is primary in setting who we are, whose we are and what we need to be about as followers of Jesus Christ. Christian formation puts what we say and do in worship into the context of our lives in the church and beyond our campus.
To do one without the other will keep us from being a whole person who seeks to live the gospel through faith and action.