|Moving Sunday School into the 21st Century|
Two Hundred and thirty-one years ago, Robert Raikes started the Sunday School movement in England. The goal was to use the free time of children who otherwise worked during the week to promote their learning of the basics: Reading, writing and arithmetic. These children did not have the advantage of public education. As time passed on, Sunday Schools grew and the role of being the primary base for secondary education decreased. However, the role of the Sunday School as one of the educational arms of the church remained. Many of the modern conveniences that we take for granted did not exist and mobility was at a much slower pace than today. Think of all the things that simply did not exist 75 years ago. One of the key instruments that is now a must-have by everyone is the cell phone. Communicating and connecting with other people consumes a major portion of the day for many people – young and old. Now, over 200 years later, where do we go and how do we use modern technology to share the gospel?
We cannot continue to operate as we operated fifty years ago, much less 231 years ago. The pace of communication has picked up tremendous speed that it is now possible to get the news instantly from around the world. You can connect with someone in another country with a few clicks. So what does this say to Sunday Schools?
This Editor believes it is time to step out of the box and be led by God to find ways to use social media outlets and other means to stay on top of the quickly changing advancements. How the church responds to this challenge is the key to the growth of the Sunday School. The Christian Education Quadrennial theme is “21st Century Christians: Restoring the Mission, Retooling the Leadership and Rebuilding the Community.” Our mission mandate given by Jesus to make disciples and teach them remains. Nothing changes about the mission, but how the mission is accomplished must change to stay in step with the times. Those who find themselves in leadership roles as Pastors, Directors of Christian Education Sunday School Superintendents, and Teachers need to examine the tools used to communicate the faith and to pass on key teachings of the faith. Are you still comfortable with a blackboard and chalk? If so, take the time to try out other tools and methods. This is an age of connection through communication. When you communicate and begin to share thoughts, community results. A community is merely a group of people who have something in common. This commonness could be the lessons learned in Sunday School, but may occur without setting a foot in a Sunday School classroom.