Editor’s Note

Journal
12.31.2011

Churches kick adult Sunday school to the curb for a host of reasons: they don’t have enough teachers; they don’t want to burden Sunday schedules; they believe it’s a relic of the past.

Basically, adult Sunday school is a dinosaur, right? That’s why young churches often don’t have them, and mature churches let them carry on as they’ve always done.

You file into the “Fa-Ho-Lo” class (faith, hope, love) that you’ve been attending for years. You chat with friends about Saturday’s college games for 10 minutes over a cup of Folgers finest. The leader calls for prayer requests and updates. That’s another 15 minutes. Then come the 35 desultory minutes of the study itself, which breaks down into 25% instruction, 25% marginally helpful remarks by classmates, and 50% rambling by two particular classmates.

If this is your experience with Sunday school, like you we’re tempted to kick the whole affair to the curb.   

But wait! Do you know what you might be missing? What if we could use it to pack gospel-centered biblical content into our congregations? And equip the saints for the work of ministry? And change our church cultures in everything from dating, to evangelism, to knowing God’s will?

If we content ourselves with a 45 minute Sunday sermon for instructing the saints, we’re letting the Friday night movie beat out our time investment into them by double.

That’s why the two of us want to push the retro envelope and encourage you to reclaim adult Sunday school. If you don’t have it, get it. If you have it, consider how you might make more of it. In the immortal words of Huey Lewis, it’s hip to be square.

The two of us have slightly different ideas about how to structure a Sunday school program. Trevin wants to cycle good material through fixed classes. Jonathan wants to cycle people through good classes. But the big point of agreement is this: don’t be afraid to teach. And teach comprehensively and systematically. That’s our challenge to you.

Jonathan Pennington starts us off with a Sunday school apologetic. Ed Stetzer offers an interesting historical perspective. And Jamie Dunlop and Trevin consider several different advantages of holding adult Sunday school classes. Garrett Kell and Juan Sanchez get into the nuts and bolts of reform, and Jonathan, Jamie Dunlop, Michael Kelley, and Bobby Jamieson get specific about strategies for Sunday school. If you only have time for one article, jump straight to Jamie Dunlop’s on changing a church’s culture.

Bottom line, we invite you to consider what you might be missing. 

By:
Jonathan Leeman

Jonathan Leeman is the Editorial Director of 9Marks, and an elder at Cheverly Baptist Church in Cheverly, Maryland. You can find him on Twitter at @JonathanLeeman.

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project for Lifeway Resources. You can find him on Twitter at @TrevinWax.

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