By Allan Taylor
People may ask, Why should I go to Sunday School and what will I get out of it?
And oftentimes, church leadership will similarly ask, Why should we offer Sunday School? Will it even make a difference? Is it worth the time and effort?
These are important questions to answer. Why should your church go to the trouble to have such a program with an enormous need for volunteers? Let me offer four reasons.
1. A Theological Reason
We tread on sacred ground here. The Trinity is mysterious, as we cannot take in all that God is. However, it’s evident that community is inherent in the Trinity.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect fellowship and community. We see this perfect community of the Godhead when all three Persons of the Trinity are in attendance at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17).
The only breach in Their fellowship was at Calvary when Jesus took on our sin, was separated from God, and cried out, “My God, my God why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46, CSB).
Think about the gravity of that cry. This was the first time ever from eternity past through the history mankind that fellowship was broken within the Trinity.
Community was the practice of Jesus on earth. “And He appointed twelve, whom he also names apostles, to be with him…” (Mark 3:14).
If there’s community in the Godhead there should be community with believers as we are to become like Him. It comes as no surprise then, that God would establish the church.
Just a few days before Pentecost when God established His church, Jesus prayed, “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me” (John 17:21).
We’re not only to be one, but we are to be one like unto Jesus and the Father. That is a lot of oneness!
Our theology must conclude that community is important to God—and Sunday School is a great way to facilitate community.
2. An Ecclesiological Reason
Simply put, the church must have a way to go about doing her mission. A company must have a way to go about doing their business. A team must have a way to go about winning the game.
Breaking a large group into smaller groups is essential for pursuing and achieving the mission. We see three examples of this in Scripture.
God had delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and they found themselves in the wilderness on their own. No Pharaoh to govern them; and no taskmaster to settle their disputes.
As the leader, people came to Moses to make decisions and judgments concerning their controversies. But what is one man among approximately 2 million people? Talk about a daunting task!
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, observed this and instructed Moses in a better way. He advised Moses to enlist able men who would rule over smaller groups (Exodus 18:13-26).
Some of the children of Israel had returned to Jerusalem from 70 years of Babylonian captivity. They gathered at the water gate where Ezra read “the law of Moses” (Nehemiah 8:1-8). Afterward, the people needed help understanding it. Others helped by apparently taking groups of people gathered there and explaining the Scriptures to them.
In the margin of this passage in my Bible I’ve written, “The first Sunday School.” The mission was to help people understand Scripture and the best way to accomplish that is through small groups.
When Jesus fed the 5,000 (Luke 9:10-17) with the little boy’s five loaves and two fish, He told His disciples to group the people in clusters of 50. When the mission was to feed the multitude, Jesus taught us that it is best accomplished in small groups.
Mission is effectively accomplished through small bands of people. And in many church contexts, this might mean offering Sunday School.
3. A Relational Reason
God created us for relationships. God gave Adam the privilege of naming all the animals. He apparently marched them before Adam two by two; each species came before him male and female.
But then we’re told, “But for the man no helper was found corresponding to him” (Genesis 2:20). Even in a perfect world God said it was not good for Adam to be alone. So God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam and performed the world’s first surgery. He took from Adam’s side and made Eve.
We need each other! Sunday School is one effective way for us to practice the “one anothers” taught in the New Testament.
4. A Practical Reason
Sunday School provides another practical way to do ministry and to be involved with others. Through Sunday School everyone can exercise their Holy Spirit given gifts.
The Apostle Peter instructed: “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
If a church has only a corporate worship service, it can restrict many believers from exercising their Holy Spirit given gifts. It greatly negates the ministering between the saints. Therefore, it relegates many to “sit and soak” instead of “stir and serve.”
Sunday School is a great way we can “do” church.
ALLAN TAYLOR (@allantaylor54) is the director of Sunday School and Church Education Ministry at Lifeway Christian Resources.