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Goals of Sunday School
Have you ever stopped to think about why your church has a Sunday school?
It is the wish of most of us to see Sunday school grow and expand, but before we can see such growth, we need to take time out to think about our purpose and goals for our Sunday school.
During the past 20 years, the overall Sunday school attend has been in decline. It has been estimated that this decline means that today roughly one in three persons attends church, but only about one in nine attends Sunday school.
In spite of the decline in Sunday school, many surveys tell us there is a need and hunger for spiritual guidance in today's society. A recent survey undertaken by the Princeton Religion Centre asked teenagers what they would like to study and discuss. The top three responses were 64% - "Is there really a God", 56% - "What is the meaning of my life?", 55% - "Is there really a heaven or hell?". All have significant religious implications.
Another survey found that 46% of all adults had at least one problem or question for which there was no answer or solution.
The Bible has the answer to any problem or question that any of us might have about living our lives in the way God wants. For the person who doesn't know the Bible well or how to apply it to their lives finding these answers can be difficult. That is exactly where Sunday school should come in.
It is necessary for us to meet the needs of the people of our churches and communities. Establishing goals for our Sunday schools is an important way for us to lay a foundation for growth, both in attendance and in spiritual commitment to our Lord.
Here are several important goals to consider:-
1. Help persons of all ages learn God's Word and how to apply it to their lives. A primary goal of any Sunday school should be to help people learn what the Bible says. In addition, we should strive to help everyone learn how to apply the Bible to their own lives. Teaching them to ask "What is God saying to me" and how can I apply His Word and His will for me to my life. Understanding the scriptures and memorizing them can help with this.
2. Evangelization. The main goal of any church and certainly its Sunday school should be to see that everyone comes to know the Lord Jesus as their personal Saviour. The Sunday school should provide a unique opportunity for everyone to learn, in depth, what it means to become a Christian and follower of Christ. It is in the Sunday school setting that we have the opportunity to show and share our love for the Lord. We can give personal testimony of our own Christian walk to help lead others to Christ. Teachers should be reminded of the eternal importance of salvation and urged to make opportunities for commitment to Christ a regular part of their class time.
3. Provide opportunities for Christian fellowship. No man is an island, it's hard to be a Christian on your own. That's why it is important to be part of a church, the "family of God." Knowing that others have faced similar problems and that they have found the answers in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, is an important part of Sunday school. Fellowship events and activities for individual classes are so important. The fact is that most Christians say they don't have Christian friends that they can talk to and confide in. Getting to know each other in Sunday school can be extremely important for everyone.
4. Provide opportunities for Christian service. Results of a survey undertaken a few years ago said that over half of the persons who were first involved in service to the church later became involved in the Sunday school. Although this statistic may not be the same for all churches today, it certainly indicates the potential importance of the Sunday school to the overall program of the church. Sunday schools and individual classes can provide many opportunities for members to serve their Lord and their fellowman within the church and the community.
5. Provide opportunities for spiritual growth. It's a rule of nature - if something stops growing, it will soon die. The same rule applies to our churches and Sunday schools - if they stop growing spiritually, they are in danger of dying. For Sunday school to grow to remain vibrant, relevant and alive, it must have teachers, leaders and members who are excited about learning more of Jesus Christ, His Word and His will for their lives. They must be excited about sharing the "Good News" that they have found for their lives with others. Sunday schools that work to promote the spiritual growth of their members will surely find the added bonus of an increase in attendance, too.
6. To be part of the overall growth, outreach and mission of the total church. What should be our top priority? The church? The Sunday school? No, Jesus Christ should come first! He is the foundation for the total program, outreach and ministry of any church and Sunday school. The total church program should work together in harmony. For each ministry has its own purpose which is different, the worship team has one purpose, the Youth team has a purpose etc. However, even with the different methods and purposes of each part, they should all be working together for the One who is our primary focus, Jesus Christ!
Examine the purposes and goals that you have established for your Sunday school. Make sure your teachers, leaders and members are fully aware of these purposes and goals. Then make sure your program is structured to establish those purposes and pursue your goals. A clearer vision of whom we are and where we want to go can help every Sunday school establish a firm basis for growth, to the Glory of God!