3 Reasons Sunday School is for Babies
“Mom, would you believe that no one in my class has ever heard of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?”
That was how my teenager began the story. It ended with the student who tried to recall the name of Shad-something who walked around alive in the furnace and my child retelling their names and attempting to tell the story being called stupid by another student. The class went back to their lesson and all was forgot. Except for the fact that my child is still reflecting on the fact that out of 30 students in a classroom only two of them were familiar with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Two high school students out of 30 knew that if they were tossed into a furnace, like the Jews were during the Holocaust, that they had hope because they personally know the fourth man who walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abnedgo in that fiery furnace in the Bible.
For years I told my kids to invite their friends to Sunday school, VBS, youth group, church, Christian concerts, and any other Christian event we’ve attended. From kindergarten to just a couple years ago they both always told me the same thing: “Everyone we know already goes to church.”
I’ve heard that so many times that if I had a nickel for each time, well, I could at least pay off half my student loans.
The same students I heard about being in that classroom during the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego conversation are the very same students that I’ve been told for years already attend church somewhere. I know my child is wondering the same thing. How could they have attended church for so many years and not know about Daniel’s friends?
What’s happened? Why don’t my teenager’s friends know the Bible?
I worked with a man many years ago who respected my faith. He told me that his parents had sent him to Sunday school when he was a child so he could learn about God. Now, as a parent, he was sending his children to Sunday school with their neighbors, so they too could learn the same lessons.
I looked him in the eye and asked him what was type of church his children attended each week. He couldn’t tell me. I asked him if he agreed with the interpretation of the Scripture that was being taught to his children. He couldn’t answer the question because he didn’t know what his children were being taught.
I have a feeling Sunday school with the neighbors on Sunday morning was just a convenient babysitting service that appeared safe. There wasn’t any follow-up on the lessons taught in church at home.
In the past year I have had multiple parents of teenagers tell me that their high school aged students are starting to ask questions about the Bible that they can’t answer. I always follow up with, do they have a Sunday school teach or youth leader they can talk to? The response to this question has shocked me.
Teenagers who are attending Sunday school and youth groups should be learning God’s word. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great youth group game and some pumping contemporary Christian mush as much as the next person, but if we aren’t using the Bible to teach, then we are leading the children astray from within the church (Check out Luke 17:2). If all you’re doing in your classes and meeting is singing songs, playing games, and telling personal testimonies, you’re leaving out the gospel.
I will never forget sitting in a huge crowd at a Christian drama. At the end of the presentation an altar call was given. A young boy, probably seven or eight, beside us begged his mother to let him go down and get Jesus. She smiled and explained they would talk about it again in a few years. It broke my heart.
Elementary aged students are ready to learn from the Bible (Matthew 19:14). They do not need to hear the same five watered down versions of Bible stories told on rotation every Sunday morning and Wednesday night from kindergarten through sixth grade. These students are capable of learning and retaining more information during one year of this stage of life than we adults will gain in our remaining years.
By the time our students are in youth group, they should be the ones teaching because we have equipped them by teaching them from God’s word throughout their lives. It is never too early to start teaching children from the Bible. When we look at things to cut or change, we should never consider cutting programs for younger students. This is where the foundation is set.
Yes, a nerve was hit today. I have a heart for students and a broken heart as I watch Christian kids struggle to be in the world but not of the world. I just wonder if we could have trained up a few more while they were elementary what kind of difference it would have made this week. This year. In their lifetimes.
Parents of young children, please, please, please don’t wait until your kids are older to take them to church. Don’t wait until you think they are old enough to understand.
Take them and sign them into the nursery. They play songs that teach lessons from the Bible there. Take them and sign them in to the two and three year old class. Let your toddler amaze you when they quote the condensed scripture of the week. Absolutely send them to a week, or every week offered in your community, of VBS. They’ll learn about Jesus from the Bible there.
If you wait until they’re old enough to understand, it may be too late. I don’t want to be responsible for not warning you. Please. Train up a child.