2That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
3The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
6Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
7In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
8Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
OK, brother Winskie. How do you get Sunday School out of that?
I realize that the early church, at least from what we can glean in the scriptures, did not have "Sunday School". I'm not saying they were wrong. All I can say is that (and I hate to say this, as it sounds like a cop out, but it really is the truth in this case) "times have changed".
In the early church, they, it seems from reading the scriptures had house to house fellowship (not in one massive building) DAILY. They even had services so long, time wise, that one young man fell asleep. From what we can glean from the scriptures, their services lasted many, many hours- not the short services we have nowadays (by comparison). The mothers didn't work outside the homes. The children didn't have 40 hours a week of forced indoctrination called "public schools", but were generally taught most things at home, until the males got to a certain age, when they began to learn a trade- either through their Father's, or through an apprenticeship, or- if the family had money and could do it- through a Rabbinical school, or some such. (Sorry for the run on sentence) The Fathers tended to work either at home (farms, etc) or very near home in the markets, etc., and tended to be around their families much more than we are now. There also weren't near as many distractions in the form of entertainment, as there is now.
The average child and adult, if they attend a church every time the doors are opened, generally has about 3 to 4 hours on Sunday, and about 2 hours during the week of biblical instruction. Some of this is taken up in praise and worship (not a bad thing, at all, but it does take up part of the church time). So, you can probably take about 2 to 3 hours away from the time involved, which leaves 3 to 4 hours a week of instruction at church.
Compare this to the 40 hours a week at school- 40-60 hours a week at work for most parents. Then, there's computer time- especially with the rise and popularity of "social media" like this site, Facebook, My space, etc. Many homes have TV's where they watch News, Sports, ungodly shows (sorry, couldn't resist the dig at the crazy programming on most channels), etc. There tends to be VERY little personal Bible Study at home, much less Family study and prayer. Of course, we all believe that this needs to change, and rightfully so. But, this is still the reality of our society.
Therefore, brethren, I truly believe that the biggest lack in the church of God today is plain, old fashioned, biblical teaching! Preaching WILL save the lost, but teaching and instruction WILL KEEP THEM SAVED! Unfortunately, in most of our churches, there are MANY subjects that are never taught at all! Acts 2:38 IS the plan of salvation. There IS only ONE GOD. And Holiness IS still necessary, though opinions vary on how to work this out. But, there is more to living for God and being a Christian than these 3 core beliefs!
Sunday school is NOT only for children. Adults need teaching too. Most "adult Sunday school" now are not a school at all. Rather, it has become another occasion for the preacher to preach his 4 or 5 pet doctrines. Most of the scriptures are ignored. There is almost no class room environment where the "students" can ask questions, make comments, or even (gasp)- respectfully disagree. All of these things are implicit in the way Jesus did things. He didn't cram his teaching down the disciples throat. He taught them and allowed them to have questions.
Children's Sunday school is NOT for teachers to be "glorified baby sitters". These teachers are to be called by God, have a burden for the pupils, and pray about what to teach and how to teach it. Presently, we have Sunday school that is geared only for kids. These classes are not set up to truly teach, but to keep them occupied while the parents are in the service! Many of these classes are now bringing videos into the class room to entertain their students, rather than to do what they should and teach them. They also now have "children's church". Not really a time to teach, but rather a time to entertain.
Church of Jesus- it's time for a change!
It is because of this that I believe and have a burden for Sunday School. What I am about to write is by NO means an all inclusive list of topics that need to be taught, but it is a sample list. Feel free to add to it. I do believe that a Godly church starts in a Godly home. But, given the realities of our world, they need to be taught how to achieve this and see that Christianity is NOT simply a religion, but is, in fact, a lifestyle built on relationship with Jesus!
Now, THIS would be my suggestion on how to organize the Sunday School. Keeping in mind the biblical passage we read above (the older men teaching the younger ones, and the older women teaching the younger ones), here is a small sample:
Nursery (ages 0-3, unless with parents) staffed on a rotational basis by praying older women.
(after this age, I believe they should be segregated by gender, depending on the class because there are many subjects that can only be taught in non-mixed audiences- and because the scriptures above suggest it.)
1) Young Ministers class (men only)
2) Homemaker/Housewife (women only, but probably needs a more palatable name)
3) Man of the Home class (men only)
4) Young married
5) New Convert class
6) Finances according to scripture (with emphasis on how to follow this in todays world.)
7) End Time Prophecy
8) Bible Study training (for those who feel led to teach the lost)
9) Life Issues (catch all. This would be "the main" class for those not interested in the other classes)
10) Outreach class (teaching different methods of outreach)
11) Vintage group (seniors)
12) Divorce recovery (needed in our world!)
13) A.C.T.S. class (Alcohol and Chemical Treatment System. This class is required in many states for those involved in Jail ministry. Also a great way for the church to act as a sort of "half way house" to help people get their lives straight in a legal sense and could lead many of them to Jesus. Some judges will actually order the parolees to attend the class at your church.)
14) Sewing (women only)
15) Cooking (women only)
16) A study of false doctrines, with emphasis on WHY they are false
17) Music (If a teacher(s) is(are) available in the church that is(are) willing to help the folks who'd like to learn.)
18) College/career (I'm iffy on this one, but some might want it.)
19) Biblical Courtship (needed to combat the whole "dating" scene!)
20) "Walk thru the Bible". (An excellent course [done by a trinitarian ministry, but we can get the literature and teach it ourselves.] It gives a GREAT general overview of the order of the books in the bible, while hitting a few highlights in the scriptures of events to fill out what's being learned. Even now, 21 years after I took the course, I fall back on some of the things I memorized back then in that ONE DAY COURSE to help me keep the order of the books straight in my head. Would be great for New Converts!)
21) Wilderness living (Some of you may balk at this one, depending on your end time beliefs. I believe that these skills- that include Archery Hunting, Fishing, Plant knowledge, Hiding and evasion, Cover in cold and hot weather, "Coats of skins", Safe fires, Natural dangers, Physical exercise, Rock and tree climbing, to name only a few- will be very useful to us in the coming days before the Lord returns.
22) Any other classes that you can think of.
I realize that some of these courses are not necessarily biblical, but they do relate. Also, I realize that teachers would have to rotate to keep from burning out and for them to learn other things as well. For some of these classes, we would need larger facilities and more people than most of us have at present. But, I truly believe that this is a good structure! The particulars can be done according to what we have available, as the Lord opens doors.
Also, I really believe that a structure like this would alleviate "the boredom" that some people feel in churches today and build an excitement into their walk with God. What will they learn today when they go to church? They can be free to take part in the subject of their own interest- teachers and students alike.
In short, brethren, I BELIEVE in Sunday School! In todays world it is a NEED! Given the massive amounts of subjects IN THE BIBLE that are NEVER even touched on in 99% of todays churches, I believe that it is very necessary.
God bless you. I look forward to your thoughts.