Where Is Sunday School Headed?
By Dick Cagno
While there is no question that Sunday school has had a profound influence in America for over 200 years and has been the most powerful educational agency of the local church, the question as it its future has begun to be heard.
Pessimists have proclaimed imminent demise and derogatory references in jokes and music have often been made to a “Sunday school mentality.”
Yet Sunday school has its supporters. The vast majority of churches presently conduct Sunday school, and countless students are coming to know Christ and growing spiritually through them. While many denominations are reporting declines in attendance, others are reporting continued growth and expansion in Sunday schools.
Perhaps it is not that Sunday school is weak or an “idea that has outlived its purpose” but that we have failed to make it work properly. There are currently over 700 separate organizations involved in planning for evangelism in the United States. Jesus gave each of us the imperative to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”
Today the majority of Christians are not actively witnessing, and expect the professional evangelists and the paid pastors to do the work of soul winning in their communities. Many seem to be waiting for the “right time” to begin witnessing to their non-Christian friends. TO help know how to witness, we need to know and understand the Word of God. This is one of the major roles that Sunday school should play in the lives of people – EQUIPPING the saints for ministry.
Sometimes we see the Sunday school class as a holy club or spiritual retreat, but the true purpose is the nourishing and equipping of the saints to become adequate in personal soul winning and to live a holy life. Hollis Green, in his book, Why Churches Die, pictures the gathering of a church each week as an opportunity to instruct and to experience support so that each believer may return to the marketplace a more effective witness, bringing Jesus Christ to the community on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If Christians looked at Sunday school as their “training ground” for effective daily living, we would see a widespread increase in attendance.