should we invite?
Sunday school, once the
mainstay of the local church, is no longer in vogue in some quarters.
Where it continues to be a priority, it continues to have an impact
as you will clearly see in the pages of this issue.
It has been more than
200 years since the birth and phenomenal initial growth of Sunday
school, yet it is still a vital and viable option for both discipleship
evangelism too. The first Sunday school, begun by Robert Raikes
in 1783, was not aimed at the children of believers. It was aimed
at the "wretchedly ragged" youth Raikes found in an impoverished
slum in England. Sunday school was a social movement for the betterment
of society that did so by teaching Christian principles and leading
young people to Christ.
It made such a national
impact that the king met with Raikes and told him he wished that
"every child in my kingdom should be taught to read the Bible."
Seventy-five years later,
Dwight L. Moody was building his Sunday school in Chicago by rounding
up the U.S. version of Raikes ragged youths.
Sunday school has changed
in its more than two centuries, expanding its ministries and including
all ages. But in quarters where its value is no longer recognized,
its heritage has been forgotten.
There are many great
Sunday schools today. And there is great potential for the Sunday
school movement as a whole. Wherever lay leaders and ministers recognize
the opportunity it presents and invest time, resources and energy
in producing a top-quality ministry, the kingdom of God grows.
Sunday school plants
seeds, cultivates them
even harvests souls.
Sunday school has become
the churchs leading discipleship vehicle and a prime people
builder. But we must remember that it has shined in some of its
finest moments as a ministry to the down-and-out, the neglected.
In our effort to reach people in what many have deemed a "post-Christian"
generation, we must not focus merely on "respectable" sinners.
Christians commonly pose
the question "What would Jesus do?" Sunday schools history
demands we build at least in part by bringing in the
needy. What an opportunity for growth!
I believe thats
the kind of Sunday school Jesus would have run.
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