home polity my creed contact info books links sitemap
related articles
print email save save as pdf
 

Lien of OZ
Abortion
Artificial Reproduction
Bible Study
Family issues
Fatherhood
Homosexuality
Islam
One World Government
Church Order
Deacons
Elders
Men 
Sunday School
Women
Worship
Scripture
Bible
Theology
Creation
  Eschatology
Evangelise
Fear
Free Will
God
Heresies
Law
Love
Predestination
Reformed
Sacraments
Scripture
Sin
Soteriology
Sovereignty
Truth
Creeds
Ancient
Reformed
Universalistic
Verses
Words
Festivals
December 25
Easter
Halloween
Personal
Sabbath
Government
Church & State
Democracy
Government
Living
Body Mods
Death
Commitment
Discipline
Fear
Family
Kingdom
Modesty
Ourtimes
Prayer
Righteous
Potpourri
Abortion
Dates
Democracy
Historical
Homosex
Letters
Passages
Quotes
Sermons
Tracts
Religions
Evolution
Islam
Israel
Pagan
Copyright
Emails
Home

Sunday School.

"6 And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. 7 And you shall teach them to your sons, and shall speak of them as you sit in your house, and as you walk in the way, and as you are lying down, and as you are rising up. 8 And [you] shall bind them for a sign on your hand; and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. 9 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and on your gates." (Deu 6:6-9 LIT)


aymon de albatrus

Origin of "Sunday Schools"

Sunday School has its origins in Gloucester England in the year 1780. Robert Raikes became convinced by his work among prison inmates, that an early religious teaching for children would help keep them from a life of crime. By default, the schools were conducted on the one day of the week that children didn't work: Sunday. By the year 1791, the Sunday School movement had spread to the US. At the time of Raikes' death, there were some 500,000 children enrolled in Sunday School. Since then it has been engraved on the public consciousness. The average churchgoer would find the thought of life without Sunday School unimaginable. Even some non-religious people often send their children to Sunday School.

Sunday schools began as schools for the poor, run mostly by churches. The schools provided rudimentary instruction to working people on their free day. By the 1790's there were several of these schools in the United States and elsewhere, where these schools were organized for the benefit of such persons of either sex (and of any age) as cannot afford to educate themselves, were run by paid teachers to instruct pupils in reading and copying from the Bible.

These schools had the additional purpose of controlling children's activities. Employment of children in industries had brought together youth of similar ages who worked together on weekdays and spent their Sundays playing in alleys and wharves, to the great disturbance of the families in the vicinity of such places, and the profanation of the day.

Sunday schools provided an alternative to Sunday rowdiness. The schools would also teach proper behavior, enforcing cleanliness, providing Sunday clothing, and reprimanding children for lying, swearing, talking in an indecent manner, or other misbehavior.

We see then that Sunday School came about for a practical need to introduce poor and rowdy youngsters to basic religious teaching to keep them from a life of crime, to teach them rudimentary instruction and to keep them off the streets during their day of rest.

Further development

Sunday schools became part of an informal network of free schools operated by various religious and philanthropic groups to provide rudimentary education to children of the poor. Depending on their sponsorship and frequency of meeting, these schools placed more or less emphasis on religious and moral instruction. In October 1811, Presbyterian missionary Robert May opened an evening Sunday school in Philadelphia in which, unlike previous free schools, he taught religious doctrine solely and without remuneration. These types of Schools became increasingly common during the decade 1810-1820 as young, newly converted Protestants turned Sunday teaching as a means of expressing their newfound convictions. By 1820, there were several hundred Sunday schools in the United States. All emphasized religious instruction over reading and writing, although most taught the later subjects as a means of inculcating the former. Many Sunday school organizers, in fact, began lobbying for extension of a system of free daily schools so that they would be free to teach religion alone on Sundays.

Sunday schools then aimed at teaching basic Protestantism to children of the unchurched poor. The Bible provided the text for teaching the truths of the Gospel, a knowledge of which, Protestants believed, was essential for moral living and good citizenship. Knowledge of the Bible, they felt, would teach pupils the duty required of them as social, rational and accountable beings

Institutionalising of Sunday School

During the nineteen century century, as society was becoming more and more Secular, being influenced by the tenets of the French Revolution and the inroad of the ungodly concepts of Evolution in the schooling system, and as religion was slowly being oozed out of schools many leaders in various Protestant churches were becoming uneasy over the lack of religious education in the public school, as secularism was making heavy inroad in public teaching and gradually the religious content was been reduced or even removed from the curriculum.. Many leaders saw in this a grave danger to the welfare of the nation. And they began to realize that the home and the Sunday School were falling far short of making up for this lack.

Some attempts were made to improve the Sunday school. A system of uniform Sunday school lessons had been adopted in 1872. A rich variety of Sunday-school "lesson helps" were published. Some churches put up special buildings especially planned for Sunday school work. Teacher training courses were given. As a result new enthusiasm was aroused, and the Sunday school enjoyed a remarkable growth. Many of the larger and wealthier churches appointed directors of religious education. In some states a director now has charge of the religious education for the entire state. Weekday and summer vacation church schools have been organized. In many communities children have been dismissed from school for a period each week to attend Bible classes. Departments of religious education were introduced in denominational colleges and theological seminaries for the training of teachers. The results of all this effort, however, good as it was, in the end the final "bottom line" was disappointing.

So the Church people followed a different pathway. They were not satisfied with public school instruction for their children. They felt that one hour of religious training a week given by teachers who were more or less inexperienced could not offset the non-religious teaching of the public school five days a week by thoroughly trained professional teachers. They felt moreover that the salt of religion should not be given to children in separate doses, but should season all the subjects taught throughout the day. They have therefore established schools of their own, in which the children were taught five days a week, and in which all the subjects from kindergarten to university were taught in agreement with the religious doctrines of their churches.

Basically the Churches took two approaches in establishing private schools; the Catholic, Lutheran, and others schools adopted a parochial or church controlled schools, whilst the Reformed on the other hand usually adopted a not parochial or church schools, but Christian society-controlled schools.

The Reformed groups, following in the footsteps of Dr. Abraham Kuyper of the Netherlands, believe that all of life should be controlled by the Christian religion, but they did not believe that all of life should be controlled by the Church. They believe that the Church's function is to preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments. They hold that it is not the work of the Church to operate schools, but that its members as Christian parents should establish, maintain, and control their own Christian schools. These schools are to be mainlined by Associations of Reformed parents for Primary and Secondary grades employing professionally trained Christian teachers.

Religious education is one of our most important national problems. Without religion a nation is headed for ruin. Any nation, no matter how strong and powerful at present, cannot, with the non-religious education of the public schools, escape that ruinous fate in the end. As the evil effects of the humanist education of the public school become more and more noticeable, Christians churches feel the need of establishing Christian schools to counter this destroying avalanche.

But coming back to the "Sunday Schools" proper:

As stated above, the concept of Sunday Schools was started with the belief that even a basic religious instruction would keep rowdy unschooled children from a life of crime. This concept had also two good side benefits: Firstly to teach children to read and write, and secondly would keep them from misbehaving in the streets during their week rest day, Sunday. All these schools emphasized religious instruction over reading and writing, although most taught the later subjects as a means of inculcating the former.

With passing of time and with more secular state schools around the reading and writing aspect of instruction was increasingly satisfied whilst the religious was diminishing. So many Sunday school organizers, in fact, began lobbying for extension of a system of free daily schools so that they would be free to teach religion alone on Sundays. Sunday schools then aimed at teaching basic Protestantism to children of the unchurched poor. The Bible provided the text for teaching the truths of the Gospel, a knowledge of which, Protestants believed, was essential for moral living and good citizenship. Knowledge of the Bible, they felt, would teach pupils the duty required of them as social, rational and accountable beings.

The idea was good, but with society becoming ever more secularized and education being available to all in the West, those attending Sunday School were only the children of the church members and a few of their friends. Many of the parents regarding Sunday School as a neat replacement of their duty as specified in: Deu 6:6,7 And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. 7 And you shall teach them to your sons, and shall speak of them as you sit in your house, and as you walk in the way, and as you are lying down, and as you are rising up. And also a convenient way to get rid of the children during the giving of the sermon. None of this is sanctioned in the Bible, but what we glean from it is that in the primitive church all listened to the preacher and all were present during the whole service.

Then, to make the Sunday Schools more interesting a Secular system of competition was introduced by memorizing prescribed portions of the Old and New Testaments, requiring students to compete with each other for weekly prizes awarded to those who memorized the largest number of verses. The concept believed was that by grounding the memorization practice on the principle that so much Divine Truth lodged in the mind could not fail of good effort, and so teachers encouraged students to commit to memory large portions of the Bible.

Many schools even used a ticket reward system whereby students received one blue ticket for every ten verses memorized, traded six blue tickets for one red, and eventually cashed in the red tickets at a value of one-half cent each toward purchasing Sunday school books or tracts. The assumptions behind memorization were soon challenged. Teachers quickly realized that pupils were often more motivated by a desire for red tickets than by a thirst for Bible knowledge. The heart is left unimproved by moral truth, complained a typical critic of the memorization-reward system (perhaps he had to listen while an eager student recited the begats). Emphasizing the importance of understanding what one learned, Sunday school organizers began actively discouraging random memorization of Bible verses, but the practice is not altogether dead, as yet.

As a testimony, a dear woman of God has this to comment on this Point: ďOh yeah, and about the verses! Yesterday, I just found a gold plated pen that my daughter won for memorizing 30 verses! And yes! She did it for the prize, and not for the love of the Word of God! You made a very good point there. Although, when I looked at that pen, I still remember when she was so enthusiastic to go to church....Ē  The bottom line to the distress of her mother, is that this teenager girl today could not be further from God and the pen is not in use.

It is not difficult to see that the present day Sunday School is in fact damaging Christian families. Millions of families are neglecting instructing their children in the ways of the Lord because the responsibility of the father is relegated to Sunday School. It has subverted and supplanted the scriptural admonitions to train our children. It has become the morphine which soothes the uneasy consciences of those who have shirked their responsibilities. It enables fathers to continue comfortably on the path of neglect. We can pack our kiddies of to their respective classes, and rest secure, knowing that they have received their weekly dose of spiritual vitamins. Incidentally we can say the same for TV as a replacer of quality time with our kids.

One of the worst things about Sunday School (besides the sterile, dull and at times secular curricula), is the fact that it compartmentalizes Christianity, severing it from any connection to real life. In reality, many children are receiving an inoculation against a true and meaningful faith. Is it any wonder that in later years they view the Christian life as irrelevant, and wander down another path? Deuteronomy 6:6-9 makes it clear that spiritual truths are meant to be woven into the fabric of daily life. The foundation of a true faith is to be laid in the time spent between children and parents. It is vital that our children see our faith as an indispensable part of our lives. Teachable moments must be captured in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. Why have so many chosen to turn the responsibility of spiritual training into the hands of others? Do we place so little value upon our children? Indeed, how many children witness their parents actually praying?

What started out with the best of intentions has taken on a life of its own, and is actually undermining God's intention for families. In a way, it is similar to certain medications which, if taken long enough, begins producing the very symptoms which they were first used to eliminate. If we are ever to recapture God's purpose for families, and for His Church, we must begin by taking up our responsibilities as parents. We must seize the moment before it is gone!

We must ruthlessly examine our methods and practices as Christians. Whatever is not in keeping with God's stated intentions, and whatever is not producing the desired outcome must be tossed in the trash can. We must not be driven by programs and procedures but must apply Godís way, first, programs and procedures are only an aid to implement effectively Godís dictates, they are not the guide.

What Then ?

The initial purpose of Sunday Schools to teach poor children to read and write is no longer needed for everyone has access to a secular school, also the need to keep them from the street is also gone because the Secular society provides innumerable palliatives, mostly ungodly . We also note that unchurched people strongly discourage, or prohibits, their children from attending any type of religious teaching. So we are left only with the children of church people and few of their friends to deal with.

Thus, do we still need Sunday Schools??

Christian children have to know and understand that God is Almighty and the creator and sustainer of all things. They must know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Saviour. They need to be conformed and strengthen in the Holy Spirit, who leads us in all the truth.

But how is this to be done?

The Parents are the first teachers of their children and especially the fathers have been given by God the Primary responsibility to train their children in Godly things: "1 ∂ [A Lesson of Asaph.] O my people, listen [to] my law; bow your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will pour forth dark sayings of old, 3 those which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide [them] from their sons; to declare to the coming generation the praises of Jehovah; yea, His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. 5 For he raised a testimony in Jacob, and set a law in Israel; which he commanded our fathers, to teach them to their sons; 6 So that a coming generation may know; sons shall be born; they shall rise up [and] tell their sons, 7 so that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments." (Psa 78:1-7 LIT)

The Lord Places the full responsibility to train the children in matters of God squarely on the parents, particularly the father. Sunday School can be an aid for the purpose, but cannot ever replace the responsibility of parents, so saith Scripture and very clearly states how it is to be done:

"6 And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. 7 And you shall teach them to your sons, and shall speak of them as you sit in your house, and as you walk in the way, and as you are lying down, and as you are rising up. 8 And [you] shall bind them for a sign on your hand; and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. 9 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and on your gates." (Deu 6:6-9 LIT)

An infant child begins learning from birth, and only parents can accomplish proper teaching in that age. Our children must know from an early age who Jesus is: "Jesus said to him, I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (Joh 14:6 LIT). Also children learn more from the example of our own life than from formal teaching. Scripture says: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Pro 22:6 AV)

As stated Sunday School for children is a relative recent addition to the life of the church for the reasons given, and as time went on it was adapted to provide religious teaching to the children of the churched people as a mean to alleviate (may i say: eliminate?) parentsí responsibility to teach religion.

However, God states that  parents are responsible to make sure their children grow in Christ, and a certain discipline has to be to maintained such as: 1. Having family prayers at our homes, coming together attending church services to pray. Prayers are very important to build personal relationships with God. 2. Regular readings of the Word of God you could read it at any time, make it as a practice. 3. Giving up bad practices so you could grow in Christ. The bad practices are: not honouring your parents, not respecting elders, and listen to evil sources (1Co 15:33). Maintaining these disciplines will make anyone grow in Christ.

Indeed if parents were to take seriously their responsibility to train their children in the ways of the Lord, Sunday Schools would not be needed, and the children would behave properly in the church, and would not need to be separated because of their unruly behaviour.

Instead we have made of the Sunday School a monolith, an untouchable Sacred Cow, a church within the church. We got to dismantle this secular type construction and return to the simplicity of the Primitive church.

Moreover, why are Sunday Schools run by women? The situation now a day is that modernist churches (most of them) in not being able to remove verse 1Ti 2:12 from the Word, do admit rather reluctantly that woman cannot teach man, but quickly insist that woman can teach women and children. What! Are they saying that woman cannot mislead men, but she can mislead women and children? Besides, does not this makes women and children of second class, for women can teach women and children, but not men for they are of a different class?

The Biblical standard is that woman cannot officially teach anyone, for two reasons: firstly Adam was created first and Eve was derived from him, and secondly Adam was not deceived, but Eve, being deceived, gave to her husband wrong advise. These two reasons bar her from Teaching, Preaching and Governing.

It is the responsibility of the man to interpret and teach/preach the Word of God, not woman. Sunday School should be taught be Elders or by well trained mature man. The children must understand from an earlier age that it is man that has been entrusted to Teach/Preach the Word of God and govern, not woman.

The Monolith of Sunday School must be dismantled, and if we must have some Sunday School, then no official appointments should be made to it, the overall responsibility has to be of an Elder (in between other duties), the formal religious teaching has to be given by Elders and mature men (the Pastor should do it too, sometimes), because children are important. The format would be that a particular topic is chosen then the Elder teaches the religious aspects for about 10 to 15 minutes, after that suitable women continue on the same topic with practical aspects (painting, craft, drawings, making constructions, etc.)

The age of participants to the Sunday School (if must have it) has to be from about 2 years to 7 years, children above 7 years old should sit with the congregation next to mum. After, at home, the father should explain to all some aspects of what was preached.

In Summary:

  1. Until 1780 there were not formal Sunday Schools,

  2. Sunday Schools were introduced to impart religious teaching to poor and rowdy children with the belief that religious teaching will prevent a life of crime, would teach to read and write and would keep children from the street,

  3. With the advent of secular public school religious teaching was oozed out of the curriculum and many religious people felt that one hour of Sunday School could not possibly compete with 5 days of secular school,

  4. So religious private school were introduced believing that all aspects of life must be interwoven with religion,

  5. Nevertheless Sunday Schools run by the church continued to grow to become a sacred cow monolith, now teaching religion only to the children of believers, in fact replacing the parents as the teacher of their children,

  6. What started out with the best of intentions has taken on a life of its own, and is actually undermining God's intention for families. If we are ever to recapture God's purpose for families, and for His Church, we must begin by taking up our responsibilities as parents. We must seize the moment before it is gone!

  7. The Monolith of Sunday School ought to be dismantled and return to the pattern of the Primitive church. However, if Sunday School is to be had at all costs, then it should be restricted to children between 2 and 7 years old, and the religious teaching must be given by Elders and mature men in the faith. If the Nation has to have some hope, that is.