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Has Sunday School Lost Its Cool?
By: Tom Bougher

In the late 1700s, Sunday School started as a way to educate young factory workers in England. Robert Raikes wanted to help teach the factory workers/street urchins to read, write, know the 10 Commandments, and live a moral life.

In his book High Expectations, Thom Rainer's research revealed that, "When it comes to reaching people and effectively assimilating them into the life of the church, the Sunday School ministry still remains one of the most effective tools some 200 years after its beginning."

Sunday School in America has become the greatest tool for all age groups to be discipled simultaneously.

I know that by now some of you may be shaking your head at this article. If your head is shaking, your impression of Sunday School probably reflects the adverse effects of poorly trained teachers who downloaded Bible material without any life application. Please, don't blame the tool for the lack of craftsmanship by the worker.

Sunday School is still effective in fulfilling the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19 making disciples of all nations. It reaches new believers and matured saints with biblical information and builds relationships that last a lifetime.

Sunday School touches babies, children, youth, and adults with questions that lead to life change and community service. Sunday School creates a place for people to become a part of a spiritual family. It is a habit that builds strong spiritual foundations for a lifetime. It challenges spectators to become servants.

For the next generation to know the truth, the truth has to be passed down (Deut. 6:6-9).

Sunday School curriculum gives the teacher a prescribed path to follow for leading the class in biblical truth. If you are going to run the race to win, you've got to stay on course.

The curriculum you choose should be designed to help learners reach specific learning and developmental goals that include your doctrinal truths. It is a path that allows the next generation of believers to run the race and win.

Curriculum works as a guardrail to keep the lesson and the teacher on task to teach life application goals, offering optional ideas and activities that allow the teacher to fine tune the lesson to reach multiple learning styles.

Curriculum breaks down the biblical truth into the right size portions for each age group. In the physical, we feed babies milk, children eat cereal, and adults eat meat. In the same way that we feed and care for a baby, we should be caring spiritually for new and young believers.

Encouraging mature believers to not only feed themselves but nurture others is the other part of our task. (Challenging believers to grow spiritually and become teachers themselves is the norm according to Hebrews 5:12.)

Your curriculum should offer a carefully planned scope and sequence, meaning it offers a balance of Bible narratives, doctrinal themes and contemporary issues presented in age-level-appropriate ways.

To check out the effectiveness of your curriculum, answer these questions:

* Is it Bible-centered?
* Is it accurate?
* Is it user-friendly?
* Is it relevant?
* Is it age-level appropriate?
* Is it doctrinally sound?
* Is it visually appealing?
* Does it work?

The Effects of Elective Classes
Since somewhere around the 1960s, churches have moved to offering classes for adults based on the choice of the student. From biblical studies to John Bevere books and Beth Moore, churches have run the spectrum of options. We are now seeing the results of that strategy.

With no overall design for spiritual growth, people chose what they were interested in. If they wanted to know more about prophecy, they attended the prophecy class. If they liked a certain teacher, they stuck with that class.

This method is like sending in a nine-year-old boy to a buffet and expecting him to choose vegetables and salad it's not going to happen.

Leadership is motivating, resourcing and directing people to pursue a shared vision that produces transformation. George Barna Electives work for motivated people. For all the others, they need someone to steer them in the right direction.

It's Time to Teach the Bible
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-16 (NIV)

All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated through this Book; but for the Book we could not know right from wrong. All things desirable to man are contained in it. Abraham Lincoln

Do not let anyone claim to be a true American, if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics. It is impossible to govern rightly without God and the Bible. George Washington

How's that for being politically correct? If the church doesn't teach godly morality, who will?

In a recent survey, State of the Church Series, George Barna shares some eye-opening statistics:

The largest change in beliefs was the 10-point decline in those who firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Only 43% of self-identified Christians now have such a strong belief in the Bible.

Sunday School is still the best tool we have to disciple the whole family. A church with educational space has the opportunity of developing all age groups at the same time. This is both economical and imperative.

Make Sunday School a priority and watch a miracle take place. Your spectators will turn into servants.

10 Reasons for Sunday School Attendance
1. It is Cross Generational It reaches every age group with edible portions of spiritual food.

2. It challenges you to move forward in your Christian walk maturing in Christ.

3. It helps define Biblical truths for your personal application.

4. It models a real relationship with Christ through the life and family of a teacher.

5. It establishes real connections with other Christians on the journey.

6. It teaches you personal discipleship habits through Bible Study, Prayer, and Daily Devotions.

7. It allows you to discuss and think through your actions and reactions to the Word of God.

8. It helps you use and develop your giftings finding places for you to get involved, refocusing the spotlight.

9. It gives your life purpose through class participation in serving activities to the community. (You are equipped to serve.)
10. It happens "On Campus" this is economical for you, and it is a very effective use of time, space, and energy for the church.

It's up to us to make it cool for all Christians to be in Sunday School.

Tom Bougher is adult resource consultant for Discipleship Ministries of the Assemblies of God, www.ag.org.

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