it's a small age specific class
a large group taught by a master teacher, the Baptists have continuously
succeeded in this approach to convey the truths of God's Word
begun as a British method of teaching street orphans two centuries ago,
the modern Sunday school movement continues to be one of the most appreciated
ministries in Baptist churches.
Contrary to the false assumption
that Sunday school is for children only, this educational ministry spans
all ages from toddlers all the way up to our senior saints. By establishing
classes for all age groups, the needs of the students can best be met.
Thus, teenagers can enjoy a time of Bible study with their peers as can
children, singles, couples, etc. The Sunday school is for everyone.
However, it continues to
Not too long ago, a family
would enter the church facility and then split up to go to their respective
classes. Their teachers would greet the class, take roll, and then
commence to teach the Bible lesson. A Sunday school quarterly
might be used as well.
With the advent of television
and computers, much has changed. Those schools which have adapted
continue to experience growth; both numerical and spiritual. As a
result, teaching methodologies have changed dramatically. Visualization
of Bible lessons has become common including the use of everthing from
computer generated graphics shown on a screen to accessing the Internet
to review information that coincides with the lesson.
For example, this writer
teaches an adult Bible class. Every quarter, the church supplies
me with a packet that includes the teachers guide, a commentary book on
the lessons, a CD which contains expansions of the lesson including graphics,
visual aids, and transparencies to be projected onto a screen using an
overhead projector. The Baptists will be the first to tell you that
a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. As a result, I am well
equipped and able to present a multi-media lesson to a contemporary group
of twenty-first century adults.
Not only has the content
of Sunday school lessons changed, but the way in which we structure classes
has evolved as well.
Churches are designing lesson
series for the whole family, those who are new believers, spiritual enrichment
classes by theme, recovery classes, etc. Otherwise, the value of
setting up courses with a targeted need being the theme has caught on more
and more. It is not uncommon to find a growing Sunday school where
there are age segmented classes along with those for divorcees, a new believers
class, an adult class studying a book together, a class for those with
hearing impairments, and a large teen class that includes grades nine through
twelve just because teens like to be part of a big group. Otherwise,
the now old fashioned view that every age group must have its own class
with no variations from that rule is no longer so hard and fast.
The modern day Sunday school that is still growing has adapted itself to
the needs of the current generation.
Furthermore, the size of
classes has been an ongoing discussion amongst Baptist schools. After
many years of experience, it has been decided that no rule of thumb really
exists. It simply depends upon the need and what works at any given
time in the development of a strong school. Some use master teachers
who effectively pull in large classes. For example, all of the adults
might sit under one teacher or all of the teenagers might do the same.
Others use small groups taught by many teachers as a way of not only communicating
God's Word but also to establish close relationships. Others use
a combination of the two. At any rate, the approach to size is best
determined simply by what works in the particular community and culture.
Either way, the Bible is being taught to those who want to learn more about
Finally, Baptists have continued
to be successful because they are able to maintain their solid faith in
the inerrent literal Word of God while adapting to the time and culture
in which they minister. Therefore, there is no doubt that we will
continue to do so in the future.
There could even come a day
when Sunday school classes are conducted in homes by groups whe meet to
listen to a teacher who teaches multiple classes simultaneously using advanced
computer technology. He might even appear as a holographic image.
No matter what the advancements
might be, the Baptists will be there and those of our ranks who are most
successful in outreach will grasp the culture and the technology to the
glory of God!