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Is It Time to Resurrect Sunday School?

Everybody ought to go to Sunday School
Sunday School, Sunday School
The mamas and papas and the boys and the girls
Everybody ought to go to Sunday School

I grew up going to Sunday School and I hated it. We met in tiny classrooms in the church basement.

The teacher would stand in the front of the classroom and read out of something called a Quarterly while we fidgeted and yawned and passed notes and punched our buddy when the teacher wasn’t looking. Looking back, I imagine the only ones who hated Sunday School more than me were the teachers. Eleven of them quit before my mom finally became my teacher. Every year after that, my mom and I would move to the next grade until I got to high school. Good times, good times.

One of the first things I did when I became a senior pastor was quit Sunday School.

I didn’t have the guts to drop it all together, but I quit going. It was a huge relief, but maybe not the best leadership decision. I didn’t care, I hated Sunday School. Over the past 20 years, we have seen a big decline in Sunday School, especially among newer congregations. I don’t remember the last time I came across a church plant with traditional Sunday School. If the trend continues, Sunday School will soon be completely dead.

Here’s the funny thing: As much as I hated Sunday School, I’m not sure we should have killed it. (Shouldn’t the next generation suffer as much as we did?)

Actually, I’m not mourning Sunday School, but rather some of the values that a well-run Sunday School (if there ever was one) supported.

Here are four core values many churches lost when they axed (or never started) Sunday School:

1. Basic Bible knowledge.

From Kindergarten on we had the basic Bible stories drilled into us. (Well, the sanitized Bible stories. I’ll never forget the first time I read what happened AFTER Noah got off the ark. Mrs. Wood didn’t have flannel graph depicting drunken incest.)

As much as I hated Sunday School, by the time I graduated I had a pretty good understanding of the basic scope and sequence of the Bible.

2. Connection with peers.

My best friends growing up were the kids I went to Sunday School with. Part of it was affinity, part of it was age proximity and part of it was surviving an hour every Sunday together.

Even though I hated Sunday School, I actually liked going because my friends were there. I felt accepted and connected.