3 Reasons Sunday School is for Babies

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

“Mom, would you believe that no one in my class has ever heard of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?”

That was how my teenager began the story. It ended with the student who tried to recall the name of Shad-something who walked around alive in the furnace and my child retelling their names and attempting to tell the story being called stupid by another student. The class went back to their lesson and all was forgot. Except for the fact that my child is still reflecting on the fact that out of 30 students in a classroom only two of them were familiar with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 

Two high school students out of 30 knew that if they were tossed into a furnace, like the Jews were during the Holocaust, that they had hope because they personally know the fourth man who walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abnedgo in that fiery furnace in the Bible.

For years I told my kids to invite their friends to Sunday school, VBS, youth group, church, Christian concerts, and any other Christian event we’ve attended. From kindergarten to just a couple years ago they both always told me the same thing: “Everyone we know already goes to church.”

I’ve heard that so many times that if I had a nickel for each time, well, I could at least pay off half my student loans.

The same students I heard about being in that classroom during the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego conversation are the very same students that I’ve been told for years already attend church somewhere. I know my child is wondering the same thing. How could they have attended church for so many years and not know about Daniel’s friends?

What’s happened? Why don’t my teenager’s friends know the Bible?


1. Parents aren’t taking their kids to church; they’re sending them.

I worked with a man many years ago who respected my faith. He told me that his parents had sent him to Sunday school when he was a child so he could learn about God. Now, as a parent, he was sending his children to Sunday school with their neighbors, so they too could learn the same lessons. 

I looked him in the eye and asked him what was type of church his children attended each week. He couldn’t tell me. I asked him if he agreed with the interpretation of the Scripture that was being taught to his children. He couldn’t answer the question because he didn’t know what his children were being taught.

I have a feeling Sunday school with the neighbors on Sunday morning was just a convenient babysitting service that appeared safe. There wasn’t any follow-up on the lessons taught in church at home.

2. We focus more on love or fun in our teaching time than we do teaching.

In the past year I have had multiple parents of teenagers tell me that their high school aged students are starting to ask questions about the Bible that they can’t answer. I always follow up with, do they have a Sunday school teach or youth leader they can talk to? The response to this question has shocked me.

Teenagers who are attending Sunday school and youth groups should be learning God’s word. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great youth group game and some pumping contemporary Christian mush as much as the next person, but if we aren’t using the Bible to teach, then we are leading the children astray from within the church (Check out Luke 17:2). If all you’re doing in your classes and meeting is singing songs, playing games, and telling personal testimonies, you’re leaving out the gospel.

3. We sell short what we are doing with younger students.

I will never forget sitting in a huge crowd at a Christian drama. At the end of the presentation an altar call was given. A young boy, probably seven or eight, beside us begged his mother to let him go down and get Jesus. She smiled and explained they would talk about it again in a few years. It broke my heart.

Elementary aged students are ready to learn from the Bible (Matthew 19:14). They do not need to hear the same five watered down versions of Bible stories told on rotation every Sunday morning and Wednesday night from kindergarten through sixth grade. These students are capable of learning and retaining more information during one year of this stage of life than we adults will gain in our remaining years. 

By the time our students are in youth group, they should be the ones teaching because we have equipped them by teaching them from God’s word throughout their lives. It is never too early to start teaching children from the Bible. When we look at things to cut or change, we should never consider cutting programs for younger students. This is where the foundation is set.

Yes, a nerve was hit today. I have a heart for students and a broken heart as I watch Christian kids struggle to be in the world but not of the world. I just wonder if we could have trained up a few more while they were elementary what kind of difference it would have made this week. This year. In their lifetimes.

Parents of young children, please, please, please don’t wait until your kids are older to take them to church. Don’t wait until you think they are old enough to understand. 


Take them and sign them into the nursery. They play songs that teach lessons from the Bible there. Take them and sign them in to the two and three year old class. Let your toddler amaze you when they quote the condensed scripture of the week. Absolutely send them to a week, or every week offered in your community, of VBS. They’ll learn about Jesus from the Bible there. 

If you wait until they’re old enough to understand, it may be too late. I don’t want to be responsible for not warning you. Please. Train up a child.

photo credit: hoyasmeg via photopin cc


6 responses to this post.

  1. I am Jewish and while my religious teachings is pretty different from your childrens', I believe in the importance of raising them up correctly. Hebrew school, Sunday school, any religious school leads to a more well-rounded child. I have very different views, but appreciate anyone who supports religious training for little ones!


  2. I attended Sunday School, 3 years of pre-Confirmation classes, 3 years of Confirmation classes, and now attend Church and teach Sunday School… and have read the Bible. And I couldn't answer either when you asked about those 3 people from the Bible.

    Teaching love in the home, and at Sunday School, IS teaching the Bible. The entire Gospel… the entire Bible as a whole for that matter… is about love. The two most important commandments – Love God, and Love others. These two commandments basically summarize all the others. Knowing names in the Bible is not as important, in my opinion, as understanding how to follow Christ.

    Our town's Youth Group (that 4 of my children belong to) focus on service to others. I would rather see them out DOING God's Word, then sitting there learning obscure names that aren't going to help them in the real world.

    This said, I, too, appreciate anyone who supports religious training for little ones. I just have a different opinion in what that religious training should be.


  3. Whenever I think of Yourgirl, I always remember het singing that song! Miss those years.


  4. Jackie,

    Thank you for adding your voice to the conversation! I have family that is Jewish and also attended all of the same things you mention. I'm actually jealous of the depths of language and scriptural teaching you all have received. 🙂

    Please drop in to chat again!!!


  5. Thanks for stopping in to chat, Brandi! I used the exact phrase “Love God, love others” in a post just a few days before this one. If I could remember which one I would link it, but blogging daily for several months sometimes gives me blog brain. 😉

    I agree that living out our beliefs is extremely important. Unfortunately there are some who don't. However, I think we need to understand why we are doing those things and I think we can find that why and HOPE for the outcome in the Bible.

    Our family has worked in many service and mission projects. Some of them have been in bad settings and circumstances. We needed to know why and have hope. We had that from the foundation of God's Word.

    It is in our differing perspectives and experiences that we find all the “parts” of the body that God has placed here to be His church. Thank you for adding yours to the conversation!!!!


  6. Cathy,

    Time flies, doesn't it? She doesn't really sing anymore. It makes me sad, but there are some things even a mother can't fix. :-/


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