Sunday School: "just a relic ... that only those who had been immersed in church-culture were still attending out of habit"

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Steve Davis's picture

Churches that have Sunday School will have to decide if it's something to continue or not. Most churches I've been part of with SS struggled to incorporate new people into SS and there was usually a significant attendance difference between SS and the main service. Some switched SS with the main service thinking people would stay for SS afterwards if they came for the main service. Not sure how well that works.

What I do see is that more church plants do not have Sunday School. Part of the problem in a new church is renting space by the hour and the lack of appropriat.e space. It also might be confusing to have two starting times. We do not have Sunday School for those reasons and more. Our worship service might be longer than most, there is children's church during the message, and nursery space. Some parents prefer to keep their children in the main service the entire time. We encourage people to be part of a weekly Grace Group in homes where they can study the Bible and fellowship. Having been in a SS church and now in a non-SS church I would not want to go back.

Susan R's picture


Sunday School can be useful if 1) it is used as a time for teaching deeper thinking on important doctrines, 2) the teachers themselves are qualified in knowledge, wisdom, and character, 3) it isn't uber-segregated 4) it isn't viewed as a mandate.

Too often SS classes are taught by someone with a pulse who has the spiritual discernment of coleslaw, using materials that are shallow and trite, and the classes are divided into age and demographics like college, singles, young marrieds, older marrieds, married with children, married without children, senior citizens, widowed/widowers, homeowners, renters, suburban, rural.... 

OK, so I started exaggerating at some point....

SS is a problem when it becomes the tail that wags the dog. 

Jim's picture

4th Baptist has a robust ABF program:

  • Not sure of the exact # but guessing 6-9 different AFB (Adult Bible Fellowship) classes during the traditional SS hour (ours is 9:15 --> 10:10 a.m.)
  • There is a curriculum plan to go through entire Bible in 7 years
  • Teachers are excellent. Most have seminary degrees.
  • Fellowships are built into the program
  • Most classes have refreshments every Sunday and 
  • Most have a prayer coordinator and prayer time

We love it and benefit from it. 

WBailey's picture

Any info as to how one could acquire this small group curriculum ? 

Mr Bailey

Jim's picture

WBailey wrote:

Any info as to how one could acquire this small group curriculum ? 


4th Baptist Church uses Regular Baptist Press. I regard the material as A++ with this caveat: An adult teacher should plan on preparing 5-8 hours for a lesson and should not rely on the RBP material exclusively.

Regular Baptist Press material is:

  • Baptist
  • Dispensational
  • I would regard it as moderately separatistic

My criticisms: I think the discussion questions are largely lame. 

I work with a young adult class. I ask the teachers to prepare 3 open ended questions for discussion. 

Joel Tetreau's picture

The reason why ministries meet and "do" different programs is to accomplish ministry objectives. In the end it really doesn't move me one way or the other if a church does this ministry or that ministry (including Sunday School). The question is what are the objectives of the church......and when/how do you best accomplish those without taking more time from individuals/families that is needed. Each church has to ask that question and then organize based on the needs of that individual church. We no longer have a Sunday PM service in our congregation - but we have kept the AM service, the AM Sunday School  and the various small groups that meet through the week. 

Straight Ahead!


Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (; Regional Coordinator for IBL West (, Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Joel is right, what you want to accomplish has to drive how you function. SS should not be a sacred cow. However, it seems increasingly difficult for the church family to find time to be together and for the pastor have time with the flock. Cutting out the SS hour eliminates one more hour that the pastor has to invest with his people. In most settings, that hour represents 25-33% of the weekly corporate meeting time. Trying to balance all of the important goals the church must strive to accomplish is not easy.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

josh p's picture

One advantage that I see with maintaining a SS program is that it gives an opportunity to focus on things that might not fit so well in another format. For example I have taught Sunday School in our church off and on and have covered topics like Creationism/Evolution, Apologetics, a contrast of some of the different views of sanctification, and I even did one on the date of Revelation to supplement our Pastor's exposition of the book. They were well received ( as far as I know ) and people asked quite a few questions. I do agree that it should never be a test of a persons commitment. I remember when our children were young that it was like pulling teeth just to get everyone ready and out the door in time for the regular service.