What is Sunday school?

Topic: What is Sunday school? An opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission.

What is Sunday school

What is Sunday school: Its roots

To answer the question, “what is Sunday school,” let's first look at its origins. In the mid-1700s, Sunday schools began popping up in Britain as a place where poor children could learn to read. During this time, children worked day and night in the factories with little to no educational opportunities. Robert Raikes (1725-1811) and other Christian leaders wanted to provide this opportunity. Since the children worked all week, the classes were held on Sunday.

Others began to ask, what is this Sunday school movement I keep hearing about, and before long, this cross-denominational movement spread to America. By 1785, some 250,000 children were attending Sunday school. Over time, some of the different denominations set up their own Sunday schools, and by the mid-19th century, Sunday school was a central part of children’s lives giving the working-class family a way to educate their children.

The Bible became the children’s textbook. They learned to read from the passages and learned to write by copying favorite verses. The children also learned a basic catechism, spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, hymn singing, etc.), and Christian moral virtues. As state schools were established in the 1870s, the Sunday school curriculum focused more on religious education.

What is Sunday school: Today

What is Sunday school

So, what is Sunday school today? Even though different churches have various views, I believe it is one of the best ways for your church to fulfill the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gives us a clear and concise teaching goal:

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

What is Sunday school: Its unique opportunity

So, what is Sunday school’s exact goal? Notice that Jesus does not tell us to teach people what to obey or even how to obey; rather, Jesus says, “make disciples … teaching them to obey.” As a result, he makes life-altering transformation (not simply information or education) our primary teaching goal.

Sunday school provides a unique setting in which you can fulfill this great commission. You may even have a better opportunity than your pastor. When your pastor preaches on Sunday morning, he is speaking to individuals of all ages with hundreds of unique situations. When explaining the text, providing explanations, and giving application, he has to consider everyone. He has to hope that everyone understands each point he is making because he cannot stop for a Question & Answer session. He does not have time to deal with individual objections or issues that may prevent some from personally accepting the point he is making.

The Sunday school teacher, on the other hand, teaches a much smaller group of people and can take the time to do all of these things. Plus, he has a much more intimate knowledge of those in the class and can personalize the application to their lives. So, what is Sunday school? It is an ideal setting for fulfilling the Great Commission by helping our listeners obey all that Jesus commanded us.

What is Sunday school in your church?

What is Sunday school?
An opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission!

If you desire to fulfill the Great Commission through your teaching ministry, you will profit from the Teaching To Transform Not Inform series since it places at your fingertips a simple, practical, step-by-step process for how to develop and teach Bible lessons that change hearts and transform lives. You will discover teaching elements you need to include in every lesson that has transformation as its main objective. As you go through the books in the series, they will build upon previous ones giving you a linear path for developing more and more advanced teaching skills. You can get a copy of the books in our store.

What is Sunday school?
Transformation, Information, and Explanation
are Foundational, but
Transformation is the Goal!

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