Sunday School

Last Sunday I had a ‘light-bulb’ moment.  My youngest son, who is 5 1/2 years old, informed me Saturday night that he didn’t want to go to Sunday School because it was boring.  Upon further questioning I found out the only thing he likes about Sunday School is when they talk about God (he doesn’t like crafts or other activities).  So I decided to perform an experiment.  I suggested that he spend time with mom and we would read the Bible and talk about God instead of him going to Sunday School.  He thought it was a great idea.

 So Sunday morning I grabbed a Bible and we sat down.  He wanted to start at the beginning so we started with Genesis 1.  It was so much fun!  I loved challenging my 5 year old to think about what we were reading.  For instance, even though God created light on the 1st day, he didn’t create the sun until the 4th day.  So where did the light come from?  It was awesome to see the wheels turning – he thought it came from the houses, but when I said there were no houses or light bulbs, he was stumped.  So we went to the back of the book (Revelation) to find out that at the end there will be no need for the sun because God will shine on them.  So our theory is that the light came from God at the very beginning.

 Matthew wanted to keep going on and on and we’d already spent at least 45 minutes just reading the Bible and talking about it.  And all day afterwards Matthew could not stop talking about how much he loved his ‘M Study’ (Mom and Matthew study).  He couldn’t wait until we did it again.

 I was amazed.  It was such a simple thing, to read the Bible and talk about it, and Matthew loved it so much.  I began to wonder – if kids love this kind of stuff with their parents – what is the point of Sunday School?  My oldest son is the same way – he loves Bible study with dad; he hates going to Sunday school.

So I have a few questions milling around my mind: 1) if kids hate going to Sunday school, why do we make them go?  I’ve heard the arguement that it is important for them to go, so you have to make them go even if they don’t want to be there.  But if you are constantly dragging your child off to something he doesn’t like for all his life, when he finally is old enough to decide whether to go to church or not, what makes us think he’ll suddenly want to go?  And why is it important to go to Sunday school anyway?  I’ve heard it stressed that parents need to be discipling their children.  If parents are doing that, why bother with Sunday school?  Or is it just something to fill up time during the sermon?          2) Why do we force kids to attend something they don’t like instead of asking WHY they don’t like it?  Rather than trying to make children fit ‘our’ mold, why aren’t we asking what they would like to do?

There’s another thing I want to note: even though I’ve heard it stressed that it is important for parents to disciple their kids, how much are we actually held accountable for that?  I don’t hear people asking me if I’m discipling my children, but I do get asked if my child was in Sunday school.  There’s a different message being communicated: Sunday school is more important than personal discipleship.

I know Sunday school did not originate in the early church.  So where did it come from?  And why?  Is it still applicable for today?  I’ll post more as I find out more information.

6 Replies to “Sunday School

  1. Good questions….
    Do you think you’re being too general with them? I know my daughter loves going to S.S, and I know she’s far from being the only one. And as a teacher in the older grades as well, it’s a blessing to see and know that there is a desire to be there that comes from all the girls.
    It’s interesting that your boys don’t enjoy it, I bless you as you dig deeper to find out why.
    Blessings, good posts, they get me thinking.

  2. Interesting post. My youngest (same age as Matthew)sometimes complains SS is boring, but upon further discussion, we realized what he doesn’t like is fitting into somebody’s else’s mold of what’s fun.

    I have always seen SS as a compliment to devotions at home, not a replacement for it. It helps for the children to see other families and other buddies who are on the same path. It’s the same thing with adult church I should be a complimentary thing or a deepening of our faith journey the rest of the time, not in lieu of it.


  3. one of the favorite things my kids enjoyed when they were little was being able to have “stay at home church”…because of the vocation we are in, it doesn’t happen all that often but when we got to do it (i was too sick too take them, or whatever)…sometimes when things in our home would get really busy, they would beg to stay home from s.s….but even though they’re reasoning sometimes would also be “it’s too boring”, I’m pretty sure the draw for our “at home” times was having me all to theirselves for an extended period of time, and working together to learn something or create something.

    Wow, the fact that Matthew got to spend 45 minutes (or more) with his mom all to himself must have made him think he was in heaven, eh! No wonder S.S. pales in comparison.

    The reason that we have always made s.s. a must for our children is because it’s one way our children learn about commitment to the church body they are a part of. They learn that there are kids that you might not like so much in your class, and yet you learn to love them, and put up with their behavior (or whatever). They learn that there are other adults in their lives who care for them, and are given the authority to speak into their life. They learn to express their faith in another environment other than the comfort and security of home. They learn that not everybody knows the same things about God and Jesus, and that sometimes what they know can help someone else.

    Ha! That just sounded like one of those “all i needed to know, I learned in kindergarten” kind of things…

    Anyways…those are some of my thoughts…

  4. Nin: You’re probably right. Not every child dislikes going to Sunday School. I wonder what percentage like it and what percentage doesn’t.

    Maybe I need to look at the PURPOSE Sunday School serves. Is it for socialization? Is it a supplement to discipleship at home? Is it something to keep the kids out of people’s hair during the sermon? What are the reasons SS is stressed as being important?

    I think people may say one thing (the most important spiritual teaching for children is done in the home) but something quite different is communicated (SS is indispensible to a child’s spiritual growth). When two different messages are presented, people can be confused as to what’s really important. If someone doesn’t feel confident to disciple their children, it’s easy to think SS will cover their child’s spiritual growth, which I don’t believe is sufficient.

    My concern is that if home one-on-one disipleship is more important, why would a choice to focus on discipling one’s children and skipping SS be seen as a negative?

  5. What about school?
    Should we make kids go to school then?
    I’ve heard of lots and LOTS of kids complain through 18 years of school, but we as a society still make them go…..why, for their benifit.
    It’s all in the heart of the matter. It’s all up to you as a parent. Some parent “send their children” and others do take their God given role as PARENT and train up their children on a daily basis like we are supposed to anyway. I agreed tons with the anonomys comment about learning to get along with “like minded” peers. Learing about commitment and not taking the easy way.
    For someone who homeschools and DOESN”T send my kids to school, Joe and I very much value SS. Someone said to me from our church last night. She said, “we all live together” in a house. We are all a big family and we all commit our time, love, energy to one another. We make memories, share chores and the load….SS is part of our children learning to live in that family.
    I hope that teachers, parent and especially children so not see it as a way to get them out of our hair for the sermon…..but an incredible oppurtunity to build relationships, learn and play. Not all kids learn the same. Some will like the sit down part and read. Some will like the craft, some will like the play time, some will like the snack….but God is ever present….molding and shaping.

    That was sooooo cool that you and Matthew spent that time. It was a real eye opener and I’m glad that GOd shared that with you. Your a great mom! And mom to……….hee hee
    love ya

  6. Sunday School began as a place where children who were marganilized could have some Biblical training because that was all there was – the majority of those children being orphans or on the street. That is the origin. George Mueller set up a huge Sunday School system so that his orphans could have some Bible training.

    Sunday School is no replacement for discipleship by the parent at home, however, there are still many children in our midst who do NOT get discipled at home whether their parents are believers or not. At Hope we have a lot of kids bringing their friends to SS – many of them are becoming believers through the ministry of our SS teachers.

    SS also provides a place where relationships with other children and adults who can speak into my children’s takes place. Their SS teachers become other adults they can talk to and are role models for them. I highly value the ministry of the individuals who work with the kids on a weekly basis. Seeing my very shy little boy who would never go to anyone fling himself at one of his teachers to give him a hug is priceless to me. The relationships are what SS is about. Don’t underestimate what happens in that time frame on a Sunday morning.

    I must agree with Anonymous – the huge draw for Matthew, along with the excitement of learning from God’s alive and vibrant word is having mommy all to himself – every child relishes and needs that kind of time regularly – I encourage you to keep that up, the benefit will be enormous!!

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