Some churches still have it. Other churches feel it has gone the way of the dinosaur. Some people have never heard of it. Other people may not know what it really is.
What is Sunday School?
In England, children were having to work in factories in the late 1700s. Their work kept them from attending school.
In an effort to remedy the lack of education, churches established Sunday School. Sunday School began as a way to educate children in the reading, math and other academics they were missing while they worked, during the week.
The American Sunday Schools began with similar intentions, but gradually evolved into something much different. Sunday School was initially held on Sunday afternoons and was taught by members of the church, but in the 1930s, American Sunday school began to move to Sunday morning before the regular worship service.
Although Sunday School began to teach children, churches began to include adult classes, as well. As schools became more accessible, the lessons turned from secular academics to more strictly bible lessons.
Some churches even began to offer “sidewalk Sunday School”. These churches used some sort of mobile stage, often a delivery truck that had been repurposed to allow one side to drop down and become a stage. These sidewalk Sunday Schools then were able to travel into sections of the city where kids live and conduct Sunday School in those areas.
Today, the question of “what is Sunday School” begs a very different answer. Sunday School eventually evolved into a method of teaching everyone about the Bible on a level they could easily understand. This applied to both kids and adults.
Why Sunday School?
Some churches decided to do away with Sunday School because it was boring. For my response to that, all I can say is, “You’re doing it wrong!” When Sunday School lessons are planned to make sure students of the correct age are engaged in ways that relate to their age, Sunday School is one of the most fun things you can experience. Too many Sunday School teachers simply walk in and read the lesson word-for-word.
Some churches decided to do away with Sunday School because they couldn’t get enough volunteers. All i can say is, “You’re doing it wrong.” Good volunteer training ensures that the volunteers are just as excited about the Sunday School program as the attendees.
Some churches decided to do away with Sunday School because they couldn’t get people to attend. All i can say is, “You’re doing it wrong.” There are so many different ways that enthusiastic Sunday School workers can attract and maintain high levels of attendance. All it takes is a little effort. After attending churches that had outlawed Sunday School for several years, I found it hard to get up a little earlier and get there. It turns out, it all boils down to expectations. Once I returned to a church that expects Sunday School attendance, it didn’t take long before I returned to the habit of being at Sunday School and being on-time. Some of the most fun things I remember were Sunday School competitions. They involved the whole church. They brought in new people. And, they usually ended with some very fun fellowship activitiy. One of the most fun I recall was called “Chicken or Beans”. For the duration of the contest, we all wore buttons that simply said, “Chicken or Beans” everywhere we went. The point was to get people to ask you what the button meant. And, they did ask. Teams were chosen. Points were awarded. The competition was fierce. In the end, we had a church-wide dinner where the losers prepared and served a grand meal of chicken to the winners and the winners prepared and served a measly meal of beans to the losers. (Granted, there were people like my mom who had pity on the losing team and made dishes like red beans and rice.)
The answer to the question of “why Sunday School” has to be, “Why not Sunday School?? It’s awesome!”