Getting ready for Sunday School
Sunday morning dawns. Even though most children get to sleep in later than they do for school, everyone still seems to move slowly. It is the one day of the week that some can sleep in a little. Wake up, children. Eat your breakfast. Get dressed in church clothes. No those are play clothes, put on church clothes. Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Hurry up.
If you have a pre-teen/teen daughter…..
- “No, you are not wearing that to church.”
- “We are leaving in five minutes even if you are in your pajamas!”
- “That is way too short. Put on something else.”
- “I have nothing to wear!!! Do I need to pick out something for you?”
Tardy for Sunday School?
Finally, you are in the car. Driving a little bit faster than you ought to make up time. Children are fussed at but everyone is “all smiles” when they get out of the car. Right?! Haha.
Sunday School never starts on time. There is always that gathering time. If you are late for “real” school then you are tardy. Late for church? That is normal.
If Sunday School starts at 9:30 a.m, then the class might really start at 9:45 a.m. So you are down to 45 minutes for class.
Sunday School & Real School
Sunday school and real school both have to deal with children that are restless. Real School has detention. Sunday school has teachers that want to be kind and nice. It may have a rotation of teachers, each re-learning the special nuances of each student’s learning style and discipline needs. With less than an hour each week, it is challenging for the teacher to build those bonds and establish a classroom atmosphere conducive to effective teaching.
Even for experienced teachers with classroom management skills – my experience is that your student likely gets at most 30 minutes of teaching. 30 minutes a week.
Let’s be generous and assume you go to church 3 out of 4 Sundays a month. Vacation and family weekends take you away on those Sundays. Consequently, you are there about 39 Sundays out of 52. That is 19.5 hours a year.
Just under 20 hours a year. The equivalent of less than a week of public school. It is not enough. You must stand in the gap and do the main teaching at home.
Assessing Sunday School
A real school has tests and learning goals. There are evaluations and assessments as to if the children are learning what they are supposed to be learning.
What is the “test” in Sunday School? The answer … Do the children leave happy? Do they have a sheet with them to take home? Did they behave? Positive answers to these questions often satisfy the vast majority of parents.
But did they learn anything?? There is often a core learning focus in Sunday School material. All too often it is something vague like God is love. God wants us to love others. These are really important ideas but they need to be anchored in scripture. Our culture has echoes of these ideas but they are not the same as the Christian interpretations.
Does your Sunday School teach the Bible?
Children need to know the grammar of the Bible and the faith. By grammar, I mean the basic facts and stories. They need to know the basics of the Bible. They need to know the books of the Bible so they can look things up. Knowledge of a concordance is needed so they can do their own research. They need to know basic stories so they can be familiar with the witnesses of faith.
Why is it important to memorize the books of the Bible? It is God’s word. (Had to say it!) You can find a book without using the table of contents. Familiarity with the Bible builds confidence that you can find things and look like you know what you are doing. If the books are memorized, then when you hear the name you have a memory peg to hang more information on. When a pastor preaches about Jonah, you know it is in the Old Testament. You know it is placed in prophets. You can picture its location and have a place in your mind to put more information about Jonah. Knowing these basic facts about the location and the story, allow your mind a foothold to hold the door open as you struggle with the deeper theological questions posed in the book.
Sunday School just isn’t enough.
Sunday School is important. Every time that we gather at church is important. It just isn’t enough on its own. If the Bible is to be our guiding voice in how we live our lives on a daily basis, then we need to study it on a daily basis. Twenty hours a year is just not enough to develop a Christian worldview and an adequate knowledge of God’s Holy Word.
Do you have the books of the Bible memorized? Do you study the Bible with your family? What resources do you need to help you with that vision?