Monday, October 30, 2017

"Error VII" Sunday School Appendage

In the previous post addressing the addition of new ideas into Church worship, I mentioned the Sunday School Movement. In an effort to avoid as much misunderstanding as possible, it seems necessary to expound upon the subject a bit more.

I understand Church Sunday Schools are just a part of the way we do Church these days. I also understand they are enjoyable to the Children that attend and in many cases Children benefit from their participation.

I also understand the debate that exists in Christian circles concerning Sunday Schools. This article is not an attempt to enter into that debate per se. You can visit the NCFIC website and gain much helpful information as well as your own web search on the Sunday School Movement. Your first step will be to educate yourself concerning the subject. In effort to explain my statement in the previous post I would like to state a few facts and observations.

For one, Sunday School is a new addition to Christian Worship, and it is controversial. Therefore its existence has raised concerns for many in our churches, more so in its beginning than now that we have been acclimated to it. One would be wise not to throw such concerns to the way side before examining their cause. Logic would dictate that it is not absolutely necessary, that being demonstrated by the fact the Church went so long without it. We also understand there is a certain liberty the church has to adapt to the needs of the community. If it didn't we would all still be meeting in our homes. But even those liberties are governed by the absolute sufficiency of Scripture.

There are certain key and necessary elements that make up Christian Worship that are dictated in Scripture. These elements govern how and what we do in our Worship as well as instruct us in their meaning and our understanding of them. If the Church (Local Congregation) comes together say for an hour before or after what we would now call the regular service ,as long as that time is governed by those elements, it seems to matter little if we call that Sunday School. But when that time begins to add some element not prescribed, changes or weakens one that is, we then have reason for concern.

Here is what can and has happened in such cases. Scripture gives the responsibility of educating our children concerning the things of God to Fathers. Sunday School can be an aid in that effort, but in most cases today it is not an aid but a replacement. Fathers have given that responsibility over to Sunday School teachers and youth ministers. This weakens or even destroys that essential element of Worship.

I have observed situations in youth ministry where when the children arrived at church they were taken to an age appropriate Sunday School class (which is a concept borrowed from the public school system) apart from the adult study and guidance. Then after the Sunday School Class completed they were then removed to a Children's Church where they were given snacks, watched videos, puppet skits, and given some simple Bible lesson. When they were old enough they were advanced from the Sunday School class to the Teen Class (which for a time I taught). When the teen class completed, they were then allowed  to help and work with the Children in the other building being used for the Children's Church.

This was all done with good intentions, attempting to make Church a very pleasurable experience for the Children. But in case you missed what was happening, the children through young age to teen age were seldom involved in adult worship or in service with their parents. They seldom heard the Pastor's sermon nor developed relationships with the elders of the Church. They were never able to observe Christian Worship demonstrated and see the Church function as it instituted the elements of Worship.

The question would be, how will those children grow up and view Christian Worship? They may have had a good time, but they never saw the Church in operation. Given enough time, as these children take the drivers seat in Church leadership, worship as prescribed by Scripture could be lost entirely. Remember the reformation? This is why extreme caution must be taken when exercising liberty in our order of Worship. If you study the Sunday School movement you will discover it was never intended to evolve into what we now have . Now you understand why I mentioned the Sunday School movement in my comments on new ideas.

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,


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