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.

Suggestions:

  • If your congregation has a website, make the intentional effort for the website to teach and be a part of the educational ministry of the total congregation. Place an educational tip or challenge on the website each week. This could be in the form of a trivia question about some aspect of the Bible. This could be connected to the Sunday School lesson for the week.
  • Set up a group on Facebook or Twitter and pose a challenge statement each week related to the Sunday School lesson. This would encourage friends to respond and share thoughts about the particular statement.
  • Teachers can connect with students by texting them a reminder about Sunday School during the week. Or, the teacher can select a word, phrase or scripture for each day that is related to the lesson. For example a lesson on the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples found in Matthew 6: 5-15 could be used as described below: The text messages could be “empty phrases,” “hypocrite,” “pray in secret,” “honoring God,” “God’s Will,” “requests or petitions,” “forgiveness,” and “temptation.” 
Texting Challenge for the quarter using the theme:  Tradition and Wisdom
  • Lesson 1: Trust in God and welcome discipline.
  • Lesson 2: Learn to listen and hold on to wisdom.
  • Lesson 3: Take good advice and think before you speak or act.
  • Lesson 4: Let your understanding be refined and let others exalt you.
  • Lesson 5: Discipline is needed to develop self-control and put acceptable behavior on automatic pilot.
  • Lesson 6: Anyone can share wisdom and anyone can be wise.
  • Lesson 7: What is the meaning of life? Never forget that God holds us responsible for our actions.
  • Lesson 8: Love is not the same as sex.
  • Lesson 9: God blesses.
  • Lesson 10: Practice Forgiveness.
  • Lesson 11: Love and pray for your enemies.
  • Lesson 12: Pray sincerely and respect God’s name.
  • Lesson 13: Put God first, and don’t worry!
The Department of Christian Education and the Department of Church School Literature would like to have feedback regarding this experience. Let us know what happened as a result of the texting challenge or using the social media within the Sunday School. Please send email messages to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or malove@amezhqtr.org This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 

  • April 3, 2018
    A.C.T. NOW
    Awaken Confront Transform!
    Then and Now: An Ecumenical Gathering to End Racism immediately following the Orthodox Christian Bridegroom Service of Holy Tuesday. Service begins at 6:00 pm, Program begins approximately 8:00 pm. All are welcome to both.

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