How important is Sunday school?
Pastor Mike Nelson, North Crow River/Grace/Redeemer Lutheran Parish
As most churches have started or soon will be starting Sunday school or other religious education classes, I think this is a good time to discuss an increasingly common errant attitude among many parents.
When approaching parents about sending their child to Sunday school or other religious classes, an increasingly frequent response pastors hear goes something like this: “Oh pastor, I don’t think it would be right to impose my beliefs on my child. I want my child to decide what to believe when he/she gets older.”
The parents that express this view usually think that they are being unselfish and considerate of their child. But such thinking is mistaken.
The Bible makes it clear that instruction in the faith is very important for the upbringing of a child. In Proverbs 22:6 we read, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.”
The apostle Paul pointed out how one receives faith when he wrote, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? . . . So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:13-14, 17)
We pass on faith to our children out of love and concern for them because we want them to know God personally and experience God’s love in their lives. We do not do it to selfishly enforce our belief system.
Christian education is important for people of all ages. We pass on the faith through activities like Sunday school, attending worship as a family, and through home devotions. If we do not teach the faith to our kids, it will not get done.
But, parents might ask, how do we respond when our child declares that he won’t go to Sunday school anymore?
How do you respond when your child gets up one morning and declares that he is not going to attend school anymore? The youngster goes anyway.
What happens when at bedtime, your child announces that she isn’t ready to go to bed? I’m sure the child is put to bed anyway because that’s what’s good for her.
Is not a child’s spiritual growth at least as important as his or her intellectual growth or physical care? Who are you kidding when you say that you are going to wait and let your child decide for himself or herself about spiritual beliefs?
You aren’t waiting until he’s old enough to decide whether or not he should go to school. You don’t leave it to her discretion when she should go to bed.
When we firmly tell our children that in our household, we attend church and go to church school, we are teaching that our faith in God is important to us, important enough that we want to pass it on to our kids.