May 17, 2009

How about Sunday School?

“Our church doesn’t have Sunday school.”

“What do you do with Jackie?”

“Oh, he sits with me in church.”

I was dismayed, at least at first. Then I remembered the origin of Sunday school. It began because a man wanted to teach the Bible to orphans. Thinking through the roster in our church (that has a Sunday school) I could not recall that we have any orphans in attendance.

Sunday school is a good thing. Adults and children learn in classes geared to their interests and ability to learn. However, the Bible does not mention this type of teaching, segregated classes or otherwise. Is it really so bad to not have Sunday school?

In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 God gives His people the first great commandment to love Him with all their heart, soul and strength, then says, “These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children . . .”

As I read this and other passages, I see that parents are to model obedience to God’s Word, teach it through Scripture placed everywhere as reminders, and through rituals and festivals that would prompt teachable moments. They were also to intentionally seize opportunities as to teach when they sat at home, walked along the road, when lying down or getting up. In other words, be there with them.

Children were taught to fear the Lord and to obey their parents, and a multitude of truths that would help them grow up to be men and women of faith who loved and obeyed God, and who lived in the power of the Holy Spirit.

All sorts of ideas run through my head. Children get their concept of God largely from their parents. Children understand authority largely from their relationship with their parents. Children learn trust from parents who are true. Children experience security and a sense of God’s care from the way they are cared for by their parents. The larger lessons of life are not learned from a worksheet but from parental models and the child-parent relationship.

Does this negate Sunday school? Not at all, but if parents think Sunday school is theology school for their children, they may have unwittingly taught a lesson that they did not intend: that you don’t go to your Father for the most important things; someone else will do just fine.

Thoughts after a conversation with a friend,
by Elsie Montgomery

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