What do you expect out of Sunday School?


One of the pressures facing the Sunday School movement today concerns its very name. I’ve often quipped that there are only two things wrong with the name Sunday School: (1) Sunday School is not just on Sundays, and (2) it’s not a school. When the Sunday School movement began more than two hundred years ago in England, it was both. It was established to teach reading and writing, using the Bible as the primary textbook, to boys and girls on their one day off, Sunday, after laboring six days each week. When the movement first spread to America, it continued a similar mission of promoting literacy and good citizenship. The movement evolved over the years into a predominantly church-based ministry that is still practiced in most churches in the United States. Scheduled before or after the primary weekend worship service, Sunday School has taken on additional purposes in many churches that extend beyond the hour or so spent in a Bible study group. In fact, many churches expect Sunday School to be a 24/7/365 network of care, prayer, communication, outreach, and ministry. It could be argued that Sunday School is well suited to accomplish all of the purposes of the church except the purpose of worship. That’s a great expectation!

But despite all the ministry Sunday School has accomplished, continues to accomplish, and can accomplish, the name Sunday School is no longer cool to some people. Guess what? I’m cool with that! Change the name to whatever you want! Just don’t be surprised when people still call it Sunday School.


David Francis, Great Expectations.