Purpose of Sunday School?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by mesly, Jun 30, 2002.

  1. mesly

    mesly
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    I know that we have discussed Sunday School here in the past, but I'd like to ask everyone what is the real purpose of Sunday School?

    Sunday School is not found in the Bible, so I do not consider it an official meeting of the church. Given that, we do not have biblical guidelines for such a meeting. Now, do I believe that it is beneficial - yes.

    The reason I ask is that over the past two months my wife and I have been visiting a local Baptist church and just started going to the various Sunday School classes that they have. Last week we sat in a class that talked about marriage issues (general psychology discussed from a book). Never opened the bible. Today we sat in another class that was discussing the trinity, but rather than using the bible, they used the various creeds from the early church "fathers" (i.e. Nicene, Apostles, etc.). Once again, never opened the bible.

    I work full time, in a secular job, all week and I cherish the times I can get into the scriptures with other believers. I believe Sunday School should focus on the bible - there is so much there why don't we study it!! Am I being too critical about this? :confused:

    Thanks,
    Michael
     
  2. GrannyGumbo

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    We are a small group who do not "do" sunday school; instead we have longer Bible teachings. Some would say this is dry, dead, cold knowledge; but knowledge leads to wisdom. There are 2 children in this group who have learned enough to boldly defend their faith. Parents are kept with their children, husbands with their wives, & families are stayed together.
     
  3. Helen

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    I guess I've been really blessed! It was in Sunday School when I was in grade school that, as a child from a non-Christian family, I learned all the major stories in the Bible. As a teenager, I learned that there were answers for confused teens like me. As an adult, through the years, it has been in Sunday Schools that I learned more about cults, basic doctrines, aplogetics, women of the Bible, church history -- so many things! It is also where I have gotten to know people I would not otherwise have gotten to know, and I am grateful for that. For me, Sunday School has been a blessing all along.
     
  4. swaimj

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    I suspect that for many churches Sunday School is a tradition. It is done because "we've always done it". As with many traditions, over time the original purpose for an activity is lost and the program tends to drift for lack of focus. Historically, if I remember my christian ed courses from college, Sunday School was started in England to reach unchurched children in major cities, win them to Christ, and provide an organized course of study to teach them the Bible. If your church has a SS program that seems ineffective, I would check into some materials from Regular Baptist Press. In my experience, their materials are top-notch for children and adults. They also give the teacher LOADS of suggestions for creating interest in the lesson.
     
  5. Bugman

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    From what my pastor has said Sunday school was set up during the WW2 (Might be 1 but I think 2) becasue all the fathers where away and this left a void, one fathers no spiratural teaching directed towards the children. Sunday School was set up to fill this void and because it took some of the pressure off the fathers/parents to teach their children the Bible it was kept around.

    Now it seems in some cases parents think that it's Sunday School's job to teach the child things about Jesus which is sad.

    Bugman
     
  6. Helen

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    Let me reiterate, folks: Sunday School is a wonderful place for kids from non-Christian families like I was. I went to church with a girlfriend from about fourth grade on. That was what got me started.
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    SS was started in the 1800s in England to reach the unchurched kids. It is not found in the Bible, but those who claim this argument usually only meet once a week, something they never did in the Bible (They met daily). So that argument is kind of weak. An "official meeting" of the church is whenever the church says it is. I consider our SS/ABF classes an official meeting, and one of the most important at that.

    SS serves very good purposes. 1) The development of small groups for fellowship, encouragement, and accountability, prayer, and outreach. 2) Direct, interactive Bible teaching with a personal emphasis (since the class is smaller than a service would be. 3) A good place to introduce friends to church.

    SS can get misplaced priorities and misplaced teaching. Teaching the Trinity from the creeds may be fine to give historical perspective in a doctrinal class. The Bible however, needs to be the center of all teaching and ministry in the local church.
     
  8. mesly

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    Actually the argument is quite biblical. Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2 imply that they meet on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. Regarding what constitutes an "official meeting" that can be debated. What I was implying here is that we have no biblical guidelines for SS (i.e. when should we have it? what should be taught? who should go? should it be an outreach to the lost or should it be to feed the flock?, etc...).

    Agreed.

    Agreed. My concern in my situation is - why waste this valuable time? Church history is important and so is marriage discussions, but is using extra-biblical material the best way to teach these topics? What do various churches do during Sunday School? Is it for bible study or for topical study that doesn't necessarily include the bible or emphasize the bible?

    Thanks,
    Michael
     
  9. mesly

    mesly
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    Let me clarify a little bit regarding my inquiry about SS. Most churches do a good job in providing SS for children. No complaints there.

    My interest is in finding out how other churches do SS is for adults. What type of adult SS classes does your church offer? Is the bible used as the source of material or do you prefer to use other books as study aids? Does your church ever offer a class where the bible is not the main point of study (i.e. marriage classes going through a popular author's book)? Anything other info I am missing?

    I have taught SS for years and have only used the bible as my source of material. Using something other than the bible (which I am seeing in my present situation) is disturbing me (culture shock?). This is why I am inquiring about this.

    Thanks,
    Michael
     
  10. Ernie Brazee

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    We have been using the Bible in SS for 36 years and have not run out of material yet!

    Even our present series on Scriptural music vs. CCM is Bible based with material from various sources on music psychology., or the effects of music on the mind, soul and body.

    Our usual format is studying a book verse by verse.

    Ernie
     
  11. Pastor Larry

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    In Acts, they met daily for various purposes. That is my point. As for all of your questions, those are valid questions to be asked. If a church does not have SS, that is biblically fine so long as they are preaching and teaching the word through various means. Each church may answer your questions differently. Age graded SS's do provide teaching that "family classes" cannot and so I think it is wise to have age graded SS's. There is a book by a someone whom I can't recall named "Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur." I don't agree with his approach necessarily but it is a book worth reading in terms of philosophy and ideas.

    I agree with you that there is no reason to teach something that does not have a biblical basis. If you are going to teach on marriage, use the Bible; it is the best book for the job. If you are going to teach on counseling/discipleship, use the Bible. Topical studies are fine (relationships, emotions, families, leadership, integrity, etc). There are cases where a particular book might be used as a basis for study. For instance, a men's class might study "The Disciplines of a Godly Man." You might study a book on evangelism, or something else. Here, it is necessary for the teacher to make the book is used a tool for Bible study and discipleship. The book cannot be raised to teh same level. However, there is no need to reinvent the wheel on every topic; use what's availabe. If we are honest, we all know that there are people better equipped than us to provide teaching on a particular matter; let's use them with appropriate caution and discernment. Books of the Bible studies such as Ernie mentioned are fine as well, so long as it involves more than mere information; it must have application to daily life. These tend to get drawn into information rather than application and can get excessively long.

    These are some valid questions. Perhaps a church more devoted to teaching Scripture might be in your interests.

    [ July 01, 2002, 05:04 PM: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  12. longshot

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    Mike,
    I belong to an SBC church and in our adult SS class we use the Explore the Bible series from Lifeway. I find it ok for an outline but it seems to gloss over anything that could be controversial as far as doctrine is concerned, (so much for my critique [​IMG] ). It is an informal class where biblical questions not having to do with the lesson are also encouraged. Also if we have any questions about how to handle certain probs in a Christian manner they are discussed. Needless to say to have this sort of atmosphere the instructor has to be well versed and personable. It lasts 45 minutes but could go a couple of hours if we didnt have to break for service. Hey, hope this helps.
     
  13. Serving Him

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    In our church we have Sunday School and we teach from the Bible supplemented with other materials. I for one believe that it is a crime not to teach from the Bible. When we use strictly other material then the Bible then the Bible is not our final authority but the author of the material used is our final authority.
     
  14. mesly

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    A big thank you to all of you who have responded. I appreciate everything that was stated.

    You have all reaffirmed my position as to the proper use of SS.

    God bless,
    Michael
     
  15. Circuitrider

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    Michael, if your point in saying it was not an offcial function of the church, you meant it was not required, I agree. :cool: However, any ministry the church chooses to have which is in keeping with Scripture is an official function of the church. ;)

    As to content, the Bible is the textbook of Sunday School. I have used Regular Baptist Press (as Swaimj suggested) for all 30 years of my pastoral ministry and recommend it highly. However, when I go to the pulpit to teach I am not teaching out of a quarterly but from the Bible. I only use the quarterly as a study guide beforehand. One of my pet peeves is the teacher who reads the lesson from the quarterly. :mad:

    "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth."
     
  16. tfisher

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    First of all let me thank God for Sunday School. I was saved as an 11 year old boy because of a Godly Sunday School teacher.

    Several years ago I began to teach Sunday School in the young adult class. I started out with the quarterly material, but was soon frustrated because the material only scratched the surface of what was in the passage we were studying. It was then that I decided to start taking a book of the Bible at a time and teach strait through it. It has not only been beneficial to the class, but to me as well. I have just stepped down from teaching the class because of leaving for Bible College and the new teacher has gone back to the quarterly. He does a much better job with it than I did. We are still having good classes. He just has a different style than I do.

    I would also like to add a pet peeve to circuitrider's. Mine is a teacher who waits until the last minute to prepare the lesson :mad: If you begin studying the lesson on Monday, God has time to put the lesson through your life before you teach it.
     
  17. Speedpass

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    The former associate pastor at my home church always believed that Sunday School was the evangelistic/outreach arm of the church(Isn't that what the SBC seminaries taught for a long time?).
     
  18. RomOne16

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    **************************************************
    Michael, in my opinion you should be concerned that the Bible is not being used as instruction material. I think Christians get into trouble when they prefer mans fallible instruction to Gods infallible instruction. I think maybe the unease you are feeling is God trying to lead you to find another church.
    I pray that you find the church that's right for you. [​IMG]

    Laura
     
  19. Robert J Hutton

    Robert J Hutton
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    Warm Christian greetings!

    Some years ago a christian named Roger told me how he witnessed to a man who was terminally ill. Roger started to quote John 3 v 16 to this dying man. To his astonishment the man finished the quote. "Where did you learn that?" asked Roger, "in Sunday school" said the man. That Sunday School class was at least 50 years before! That man had gone through his life without God; indeed, he was known as a "bit of a rogue"; but the words of that lovely verse had lodged in his mind and was to lead to his salvation many years later.

    Please, let no-one ever say that Sunday School has had its day, or is not useful for to-day's kids. Teaching the Word of God is always right because God's word will "not return unto Him void".
     

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