I am sure all of you have been in conversations in the local church or with leaders from other churches where the validity of Sunday School is questioned. Most of those conversations are usually built upon assumptions based on one’s legitimate experience of an unhealthy Sunday School model versus a historical and strategic look at the value of Sunday School to a local church’s discipleship strategy. While there are many reasons why Sunday School is important, vital, and essential, all of them cannot be accounted for in one blog post, but let me suggest 5 reasons for keeping Sunday School a priority in your church.
1. A Theological Reason
Community is important. Community is inherent in the Trinity. We see this when all three Persons of the Trinity are in attendance at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17). We see this also when Jesus was on the cross and cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me.” This was the first time in the history of eternity that fellowship was broken within the Trinity. If there is community in the Godhead there should be community in the Body. Community was the practice of Jesus on earth. “And He ordained the twelve, that they should be with Him…” (Mark 3:14)
2. A Ecclesiological Reason
Simply put, the church must have a way to go about doing her mission. A company must have a way to go about doing their business. A team must have a way to go about winning the game. Breaking a large group into smaller groups is essential for achieving the mission. We see three examples of this in Scripture.
- When Moses needed to judge the people, his father-in-law advised him to get able men who would be over others. (Exodus 18:13-26)
- After Ezra had read “the law of Moses” the people needed help understanding it. Others helped by apparently taking groups of people gathered there around the Water Gate. (Nehemiah 8:1-8)
- When Jesus fed the 5,000 He divided the people into groups of fifty. (Luke 9:10-17)
We must remember this principle that is foundational to building a healthy church: The church’s mission is best accomplished in the context of small groups.
3. A Relational Reason
God created us for relationships. Even in a perfect world God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone. We need each other! Sunday School makes it possible for us to practice the “one another’s” taught in the New Testament.
4. A Practical Reason
Sunday School gives every member a practical way to do ministry and to be involved with others. Through Sunday School everyone can exercise their Holy Spirit given gifts. The Apostle Peter instructed: “As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
5. A Functional Reason
Sunday School is the best small group model because it provides a small group Bible study for all age divisions, Preschool through Sr. Adults. No one is left out! It is essential that the church get the Word of God into her children! Also, Sunday School is much more successful in getting worship attendees in a small group Bible study. Sunday School functions more effectively!
By Allan Taylor. Allan is a member of BACE and the Director of Sunday School & Church Education Ministry, LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, TN. He is also the author of multiple resources including his recent resource, Sunday School Matters.