I’ve always enjoyed attending and teaching Sunday school. I went to Sunday school as a child whenever I could. I went with my grandmother when my mother wasn’t available, or was too tired to take me. Since my mother and grandmother attended different denominations, I grew up with a “well-rounded”, but somewhat confusing and even conflicting religious education. And my grandmother threw in a few lessons of her own. Remember my blog about coffee? She told me my Sunday school teacher had a mustache because she “drank too much coffee”. She told me about people in the church to respect, and those who were “struggling with problems”. She taught me to sit up straight, carry my offering tied in my handkerchief, and pay attention to my teacher.
My first teaching assignment in Sunday school was a class of three-year-olds. They were so sweet and trusting. They listened to our little Bible stories at a horseshoe-shaped table made by one of the deacons. We ate crackers and colored pictures. We sang songs. They didn’t know or care that their sixteen-year-old teacher didn’t know a whole lot more about the Bible than they did! And I learned my first lesson about teaching. A good teacher studies more than her students.
I’ve taught several age groups since that first little class, but for years my favorite was four-year-olds. So curious. So intuitive about people. So eager to please. Now fifth grade girls---that’s a whole other blog! I gradually eased into teaching adults. You know how it goes. You agree to be a substitute, hoping the teacher is never ill. Then you teach a small group and no one makes fun of you. Pretty soon God takes you by the hand and says here, “Teach this class”, and you do it without fainting! The Christian life is a series of challenges that make you grow and change, whether you want to or not.
I love the class I’m currently attending. It’s just the right size. We have twenty-eight members and twelve to fifteen of those regularly attend. It’s designated as a “couples” class, but that guideline was ignored years ago. We have couples and widows and singles. We’re “mature” so that means anyone from 50 to whatever. I serve as the substitute, which means I teach about ten Sundays a year. That’s just enough to keep me from getting too lazy!
Sunday school was designed as an evangelistic tool, but it’s also a great learning experience for Christians. Our class is studying Romans this quarter. It’s all about salvation and peace and faith and grace. We have great discussions and we respect our differing opinions. We pray for each other and share problems and painful experiences. I know that I can call anyone in my class if I need something. Being a Christian isn’t easy, and if you think, as I did growing up, that it gets easier as you get older…well, it doesn’t. Today’s world doesn’t have the “black and white” “good or bad” “sin or not” clarity of the years when I was growing up. The world today is all gray and tolerant and “oh, whatever makes you happy”. That makes it hard for a Christian to take a stand without seeming intolerant or even hateful. Attending Sunday school helps you cope.
I’m not sure I would feel the same about my church if I only attended the morning worship service. There’s a certain amount of ritual and formality to any worship service and I suppose there should be, but there never seems to be enough time to really get to know people. And of course there isn’t much discussion during a sermon! You might get in a couple of questions if you stay around after the service. And studying on your own isn’t nearly as enriching as talking with other people. Sunday school seems to be the perfect way to get to know other people, study the Bible, get some encouragement for the week, and maintain your faith in a changing world.
If you aren’t attending Sunday school I hope you will give it a try. I’ll tell you a secret- I can almost guarantee there is someone who has been praying for you to join their class!