Church

In Sunday School, What Should Be Studied?

When I was a Christian school administrator, we used a wonderful program called ABEKA produced in Pensacola, Florida. This is an amazing curriculum that is used in countless schools in America, and throughout the world. However, like all curriculums it is not perfect, as good as it is. Upon evaluation of the ABEKA program I was using at that time, I found two concerns, which I shared with my teachers.

First, I told the teachers, especially in the English department, a greater emphasis could be placed on creative writing and critical thinking. Rote memorization is important, but so is conceptualization, reflection, discernment, analysis, and evaluation. The skills associated with critical thinking will help a Christian defend their faith, and be able to give, with confidence, an answer for the hope that is in them. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:5)

Second, because the ABEKA program is so demanding on a daily basis, for both the teachers and the students, I would counsel the teachers to control the curriculum, and not let the curriculum control them. Let the curriculum guide the lesson plans, yes. Move through the body of material, to be sure, but sometimes, the process has to be slowed down in order to emphasize a lesson or develop a subject more fully. Those who have used the ABEKA program can appreciate what is being said. Quantity of material is essential for a good education, but so is quality of understanding.

Within some denominational churches a curriculum is being used that would be more beneficial if it allowed for critical thinking and discussion, and if there were a slowing down of the process of presentation. Often, the curriculum takes a “shot gun” approach to a lesson when a “rifle shot” is needed in order to focus on what is being taught. Quantity of material, getting through a whole book of the Bible, for example, or even two books of the Bible in one quarter, is insisted upon. The time and money invested in the resource material is not wasted when quality of content is desired over quantity of information. It is to be remembered that the curriculum is really just supportive material. It should not replace the real curriculum of the church which is the Bible, consisting of sixty-six books.

Ideally, every Christian denomination, and every local church should be a people of one Book, the Bible.

“Century follows century
There it stands.

Empires rise and fall and are forgotten
There it stands.

Dynasty follows dynasty
There it stands.

Kings are crowned and uncrowned
There it stands.

Despised and torn to pieces
There it stands.

Storms of hate swirl about it
There it stands.

Agnostics smile cynically
There it stands.

Profane punsters caricature it
There it stands.

Unbelief abandons it
There it stands.

Higher critics deny its inspiration
There it stands.

Thunderbolts of wrath smite it
There it stands.

An anvil that has broken a million hammers
There it stands.

The flames are kindled about it
There it stands.

The arrows of hate are discharged against it
There it stands.

Radicalism rants and raves against it
There it stands.

Fogs of sophistry conceal it temporarily
There it stands.

The tooth of time gnaws but makes no dent in it
There it stands.

Infidels predict its abandonment
There it stands.

Modernism tries to explain it away
There it stands.”

A. Z. Conrad

If a local church is not careful, in a sure but subtle way, the denomination’s curriculum can replace the Bible as the “sure word of prophecy.” (2 Peter 1:19) Let the local church consider the following.

Trust the Sunday school teachers, or find teachers that can be trusted.

Supervise the teachers, and the lessons being taught, so that everything conforms to the faith once delivered to the saints. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3)

Allow for flexibility. Do not insist that the teacher be a slave to the denomination’s curriculum, but to the Word of God. Let the Word of God control the supportive material, and not vice versa.

Encourage the teachers to be led by the Holy Spirit, not just in, the preparation of a preordained lesson, but in the message of the day. Some denomination even tell the minister what to preach, and what text to use. When that is the case, “Who needs the Holy Spirit?” “Who needs to pray?” “Who needs to seek the mind of God?” It is all preplanned, prepacked, and delivered quarterly. What was designed to be a helpful tool takes the Word of God, and the souls of the saints hostage.

Save some money if possible. Many Christian churches have discovered that they can save a lot of money by returning to the simplicity of being a people of one Book, the Bible. No disrespect is intended towards those who write the denominational Christian literature. Good men and women spend time and effort to produce quality material. But, sometimes, the material is not needed. Some churches with challenging budgets can save money by being good stewards of the limited resources.

Teach the teachers to teach according to the prophetic mandate. “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:” (Isaiah 28:10)

When the Bible is consumed within a Biblical framework, the Lord will be honored, with practical spiritual results.

The Bible will be taught line upon line. A few books of the Bible can be taught within a short period of time, but most books of the Bible, when taught correctly, need more time than a quarter.

The Bible will be taught “here a little, and there a little.” People eat and digest food better in small portions. The same is true for spiritual food, which is why the Bible encourages mediation. Most curriculums can feed an elephant in a quarter, when grazing food for sheep is needed.

The whole counsel of God can be communicated when the truths of the Bible are presented according to gospel terms. “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27)

Here then, is a word of exhortation for Sunday School teachers. Seek the mind of the Lord. Be led of the Spirit. Ask for flexibility in teaching a class, within boundaries and guidelines. Control the curriculum; do not let it control you. Remember that the Bible is the TRUE curriculum for the local church. Teach God’s Word, God’s way: line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. Teach the whole counsel of God. If possible, do not be afraid to consider saving curriculum resources for other ministries.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s