By Edwin Crayton/Opinion
When you think of schools that have given us people who have contributed to our world in benevolent ways, institutions such as Harvard, Yale and other Ivy League schools come to mind. Yet, historically, the school that is most responsible for shaping character is Sunday school. In fact, many of those who went to Yale and Harvard went there first. That is why it is so vital to get kids back to church. They need the character building lessons found only in God’s Holy Word, the Bible. Yet many churches have not reopened for children due to safety concerns about the Coronavirus. At the same time, children are going to regular school. What is the difference? Here is an argument as to why all Sunday schools should be opened and why outreach to unchurched children should be expanded.
If you are a Christian, I am sure I don’t have to point out that today’s culture is neither kind to nor supportive of Christian values. Which means this is the ideal time to both teach and reinforce the teachings of Jesus Christ. The spiritual instructions children get from going to Sunday school have never been more vital. Let’s not fool ourselves. If we don’t teach our children, a media and pop culture hostile to Christianity will act as substitute teachers. Here is a sample of their class schedule: “God did not create the earth 101”; “You can marry any sex or species 101”; “How to have sex before marriage 101”. Or, “Even though the Book of Genesis says God made them man and woman, so-called experts maintain there is no such thing as gender 101”. These lessons ooze out of TV, movies, online games, social media and music on your child’s phone. This is all happening right now.
Some will point out that they have online Sunday school classes. That’s fine. But let’s be honest. Don’t online classes only reach children with computer access? In The Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus himself commanded his followers to spread the gospel to the whole world, meaning the unchurched. In other words, the implication of that is that our goal should be to grow the kingdom, not just reach our own members. And believe me, there is a great harvest, just as Christ promised there would be. I know this because I am involved in a ministry called 22:6 (226youth.org) which is blessed to be able to do outreach primarily to children who have trouble getting to church. 22:6 either takes them to church, or arranges with a parent to have Bible study with the parent and child in their home, using 10 to 15 minute Bible lessons. Each child receives a free snack or prize. Point is, it is simply time to try approaches that are new and creative. God will guide and direct us if we will submit to and obey Him. In the Great Commission, Jesus ended his command by promising to personally be with us as we reach out to those who do not yet know about him or believe in Him. Every believer should know that believing in Jesus is very important, because Jesus himself said so in John 14:6. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” He was putting it on the line and warning that only those who accept him as savior and Lord will make it to heaven. He wants everyone to have an opportunity to accept him so they can be saved and live with God eternally. That especially goes for children.
What can we do in more specific terms? First, we can pray. James 1:5 says that God will give us wisdom if we will ask. Next, we can educate ourselves on the guidelines for social gatherings and follow the directions from the CDC (Centers for Decease Control) By the way, there is no CDC guideline that prevents us from sharing Jesus with anyone. With God’s help and good information on safety, we can step up our game and reach more children. And of course, wear masks. A few simple ideas to get the ball rolling: Children who have computers and who attend Sunday school online could invite a friend to join them. Churches could copy what the 1st Century Christians did and go “two by two” (teams of two people) into neighborhoods and share short five or 10 minute Bible lessons, like I mentioned earlier. These are merely suggestions or idea starters. Jesus will give you the ultimate direction, the good ideas and he will provide the increase. We just need to be open to his guiding hand. Like church, Sunday school does not have to always happen between walls. But it is good when believers come together the Bible tells us (Hebrews 10:25). However, if we cannot do that physically, let’s do it in any way that puts the word of God in front of our children and children in our communities. If we really believe children are the future, then it naturally follows that we should also believe that without Christian children there can be no Christian community. America needs new Christians because it needs to follow God in order to continue to be blessed.
Whatever we do, let’s throw off the fear and realize that the stakes are too high not to strengthen and bring innovations and fresh thinking to Sunday schools. It should be obvious that we need to do more than we are doing. This epidemic is causing lots of pain and stress. There is a world of hurting people out there and some of them are children. They need a loving, benevolent God’s instruction now more than ever and they need it consistently and brought to them by teachers who love God and love people. Two things you will most likely find in only one school: Sunday school.
“Allow the little children to come to me.” –Jesus Christ, Matthew 19:14
“My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.”—Hosea 4:6
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old will not depart from it.”—Proverbs 22:6