The Value of Your Sunday School Ministry
By: Mimi Bullock
There has been a lot of discussion in my circle of friends recently about the necessity of Sunday School. I’ve been working in children’s ministry for nearly two decades, and I never thought I’d see the day when churches would consider doing away with this valuable ministry.
I know the arguments (“We need to cut costs” and “We don’t have enough volunteers”), but these seem small compared to the growing need for spiritual guidance. Is this answer to remove this valuable spiritual service? I’m not convinced.
Sunday Schools may seem like “old hat” to some churches, but, according to Barna Research, 95% of churches still offer some type of classroom Bible teaching – and for good reason.
Barna says, “In a culture saturated with change, one of the most stable aspects in the religious sphere has been Sunday School – the weekend educational efforts that Protestant churches offer to people outside of worship services.”
More than ever before, people need a counterweight to the massive cultural shifts that modern societies are now experiencing.
More specifically, children need Sunday School ministry for these five reasons. If you’re building a new ministry or revamping an established one, keep these goals in mind.
1. Sunday School helps children respect, appreciate and utilize the Bible.
Reverence for God’s written words doesn’t come naturally, sadly. A healthy Sunday classroom environment, centered around the Bible, will elevate its importance in a child’s life.
2. Sunday School teaches children how to navigate the Bible.
If a child joins the Scouts, the Scoutmaster doesn’t hand him a 400-page map and say, “Good luck!” Sunday School teachers don’t just teach Bible stories, they show a child how to utilize the concordance and give a basic understanding of the Bible’s books and overall format.
3. Sunday School gives kids a chance to ask questions.
Kids’ church isn’t designed for a detailed Q&A session, but Sunday classes can. Sunday School is the perfect format for in-depth discussion, and even debate. This format allows teachers to give kids more good food for thought.
4. Sunday School develops a community of believers.
Why do you think schools use the classroom method? Not just to reach more children faster. Originally, it was because in a classroom setting, kids were more likely to help one another and push each other along in their growth. A community of children, worshipping, learning the Bible and discovering God together creates a bond that single study can’t accomplish. Sunday Schools are the Petri dishes for the future church.
5. Sunday School plants spiritual seeds.
Some of my greatest revelations concerning God’s love and plan for me I received quietly in Sunday School. I’ll never be able to thank the small Baptist church ministry that picked me up on the bus and carried me to Sunday School every week. Even when we moved away from that loving community of believers, I never forgot the songs, the lessons and the love. Sunday Schools are like plant nurseries; they may look unimpressive at first, but under the soil, miracles are happening.
How to Teach Sunday School
“Sunday Schools” were first established in the 1700s in Britain to educate poor children on how to read and write. These children worked six days a week, were very poor, and many were starving.
Today, public school systems teach our kids the “three Rs” but little about God or His Word. Enter the Sunday School teacher!
If you’ve decided to become a Christian educator, you are joining the ranks of a long, proud line of selfless servants who love God and kids.
If you are learning how to teach Sunday School, there are some practical keys you should know.
1. Know the ages of your children.
he curriculum may cover several ages or grade, but to really grab kids’ attention, you’ll need to apply the “Minute Rule.” If you teach 8-year olds, you have 8 minutes to cover each section. If you teach 6-year-olds, you’ll have 6 minutes. Keep the material appropriate for the age of the children.
2. Use the Bible translation preferred by your church.
Some churches may prefer King James Version, while others may like teachers to use the New International Version. Double check before you begin teaching.
3. Prepare ahead of time.
Kids that see their teacher unprepared and unorganized will translate that to “She really doesn’t care about the class, or me.” Don’t wait till the night before or the morning of class to go over your lesson. You’ll need time to gather your supplies and pray over the material.
4. Include a variety of activities.
Don’t plan to talk the entire time. Kids need interaction; they like stretching their muscles. Include a section for physical movement, crafting, and expressions of worship. This should be part of your weekly curriculum.
5. Promote attendance by using special charts or posters.
Place star stickers next to each child’s name when they attend Sunday School. Use incentives for attendance like small prizes or fun activities.
6. Arrange the room in a kid-friendly manner.
Kids need the appropriate tables and chairs for comfort. Also, decorate with bright colors that draw kids’ eyes. Use cut-out decorations like scenes from the Bible on a bulletin board or taped to the walls. Have Bible puzzles and coloring materials on tables waiting for kids who are early.
7. Use music.
Play music softly in the background during the welcome portion of your Sunday School class. This sends a signal that class is about to begin.
8. Stick to the curriculum.
Some Sunday Schools teach the same subject to all grades at the same time. Don’t “go rogue” if you are having difficulties. Communicate with your Sunday School Superintendent. Let someone know if the curriculum is inappropriate.
9. Pray before the class and in the classroom.
Incorporate an opening prayer and closing prayer into the lesson.
Sunday School is a wonderful way to educate children about God and His Word. Take some time to get to know the children and build relationships with each one. Kids love the teachers that love them!
Mimi Bullock writes for www.Ministry-To-Children.com, a resource started by Tony Kummer to solve children's ministry problems.