Sunday School. What comes to mind when you think about it? Perhaps words or phrases like “boring,” “shallow,” “waste of time,” and “irrelevant.”
Enter the latest edition of the 9Marks Journal. The authors are risking evangelical scorn (not a very high-risk proposition, actually) by suggesting that Sunday School has the potential to be really helpful to the church. Consider this section from the editor’s note by Jonathan Leeman and Trevin Wax:
Basically, adult Sunday school is a dinosaur, right? That’s why young churches often don’t have them, and mature churches let them carry on as they’ve always done.
You file into the “Fa-Ho-Lo” class (faith, hope, love) that you’ve been attending for years. You chat with friends about Saturday’s college games for 10 minutes over a cup of Folgers finest. The leader calls for prayer requests and updates. That’s another 15 minutes. Then come the 35 desultory minutes of the study itself, which breaks down into 25% instruction, 25% marginally helpful remarks by classmates, and 50% rambling by two particular classmates.
If this is your experience with Sunday school, like you we’re tempted to kick the whole affair to the curb.
But wait! Do you know what you might be missing? What if we could use it to pack gospel-centered biblical content into our congregations? And equip the saints for the work of ministry? And change our church cultures in everything from dating, to evangelism, to knowing God’s will?
If we content ourselves with a 45 minute Sunday sermon for instructing the saints, we’re letting the Friday night movie beat out our time investment into them by double.
That’s why the two of us want to push the retro envelope and encourage you to reclaim adult Sunday school. If you don’t have it, get it. If you have it, consider how you might make more of it. In the immortal words of Huey Lewis, it’s hip to be square.
This is what we’re working hard to see develop in our Sunday School offerings at Immanuel: gospel-centered, biblically saturated, theologically driven content for the glory of God and the eternal good of people. An audacious goal, perhaps, but one we think is absolutely worth pursuing.
And that’s not all. We’re also working hard to make sure the coffee is great.
So, let’s push the retro envelope together and reclaim Sunday School for the next generation. In this case, at least, I think Huey Lewis is right.
Be sure to check out the other articles on the value of Sunday School in the latest 9Marks Journal. You can do so here. Oh, and for readers of this blog that may be under 30 years of age, the picture above is of an aging Huey Lewis. Perhaps no longer hip, just square like the rest of us.