Where can you study the Bible, ask questions, debate issues, engage in dialogue, share heartfelt concerns, and build lifelong friendships? The answer? Sunday school! But . . . isn’t Sunday school just for kids?
History of Sunday School
Some adults incorrectly assume and children incorrectly imagine that Sunday school is an extension of the Monday-Friday rigor of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. Neither is accurate today. Although the first Sunday school originated in Europe in the 1780s as a way to educate children who worked in factories during the week.
When the Sunday school movement spread to the United States, denominations led the way in supervising their own religious education. Adults and children often studied the Bible together.
My Experience with Sunday School
For me, Sunday school is where I memorized the books of the Bible and learned the major biblical accounts. I loved the games, the “boys against girls” competition, and the awards for scripture memorization and attendance. My daily habit of reading and studying the Bible has its roots in the small classes of my dad’s church in Harlem, New York.
As a young adult, teaching Sunday school took the place of being a student, although teaching demanded much more Bible study than attending ever did.
My lifelong friendships are with the people I met in Sunday school and Bible study. Being honest with each other and praying for one another builds bonds that are impossible to develop by just sitting next to someone during morning service. In church service, asking questions—and getting answers—just can’t happen.
But in a small group Bible study, strengthening the muscles of faith and learning church history and doctrine are possible in the intimate peer-to-peer cooperative learning environment called Sunday school. When I visited my brother, Elder Allen Powlis, in Atlanta, GA, and attended the adult Sunday school class he was teaching, their energized discussion and laughter reinforced the reality that building community accompanies scriptural competence.
Sunday school . . . it’s definitely not just for kids!
Sunday school’s name may be misleading. Perhaps it’s a good idea to be creative and rename the class. This is a better solution than not having Sunday school for adults at all.
Anyone who truly wants to develop a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ can get to know Him better through study of this love letter called the Bible. While knowledge of the Word alone does not guarantee a personal relationship with Jesus, it’s doubtful that a relationship with Jesus will mature without studying His Word.
Taking time to read, really read the Bible means pausing to consider what the Bible is saying to us today. In the first Genesis lesson, for this quarter we find clues about basic nutrition when God says he has given us seed bearing trees (Genesis 1:11-12). In this fast-food era, we might pause to evaluate whether or not processed and convenience foods are killing us slowly.
If knowledge is power, then knowledge of God’s word is the most powerful weapon we have in our spiritual arsenal. Just as times change, how we teach and study the Bible also changes. Welcome to the Sunday School Made Simple “class” where we digitally engage the learner, equip the teacher, and provide resources to truly make Bible study one of the best times of the week!