Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What Every Pastor Should Know About Sunday School

What Every Pastor Should Know About Sunday School

By Elmer L. Towns and Stan Toler

This book recently caught my eye. While I don’t think it’s spectacular enough to run out and buy it, I did find the Table of Contents provocative. The Table of Contents lends itself to an exercise between the Minister, Director/Coordinator of Religious Education, and/or the Religious Education Committee. Get together over tea and for each of the 19 chapters, come up with three ways your congregation’s religious exploration program takes advantage of this aspect. What part does the minister play? The DRE? The REC? The teachers? Others? If you have trouble coming up with examples, perhaps it’s time to look at that aspect and use its gifts more fully. Which aspects are your strengths? Celebrate those!


Table of Contents:

Sunday School will…

  1. Help you reach the lost.
  2. Will give you extra doors into the church.
  3. Will boost (Unitarian Universalist) knowledge.
  4. Will help you minister to all ages.
  5. Will help you meet needs. (If you solve peoples’ problems, they return.)
  6. Will produce leaders in your church.
  7. Will provide role models.
  8. Will turn spectators into workers.
  9. Will provide prayer intercessors (bind community together.)
  10. Will provide teaching evangelism. (deepen Unitarian Universalist identity and commitment)
  11. Will provide instant follow-up for new converts.
  12. Will provide a friendship network.
  13. Will provide life coaching.
  14. Will teach churchmanship.
  15. Will make use of all spiritual gifts.
  16. Will provide spiritual care.
  17. Will teach faithfulness.
  18. Will build character.
  19. Activates friendship evangelism.

Friday, December 19, 2008


One year our youth group decided that as part of their church community service, they would each take turns greeting on Sunday morning. It was refreshing to see new and especially younger faces.

One person, however, took exception. Michaela. She put her hands on her hips and said, “How come they get to do that? No one asked me. How come I don’t get to greet?” Not waiting for someone to invite her, Michaela appointed herself the official child-greeter.

I find most Unitarian Universalist congregations have a Michaela, too. Our Michaela was 6 at the time. Just a little peanut of a girl. Very articulate. Very opinionated. With a wild streak of initiative.

She taught me that it’s never to early to develop our leaders. She turned out to be one of the best greeters we ever had. She knew all the members, especially the children. If someone was new, she’s spot them right away, and often ignoring the parents would grab them by the hand, “Hi, I’m Michaela. This is your first time, so I’ll show you around. You’re in third grade? Oh, good. You’re in Ms. Christine’s class and they’re telling Bible Stories. I’ll show you where to go when they sing us out. Come sit by me. Where do you go to school? Uh-hm. Do you prefer dogs or cats? Up here we sit on the chairs. We can’t stand on them with our shoes. Bob just bought them and they’re new. But once you go downstairs we can lay on the floor. Do you prefer cookies or crackers? We have both here. I’ll show you.”

Rather than say, “oh that’s so cute…” our wise Director of Religious Education helped our Membership Chair work with Michaela as a committee member. We are all spiritual peers of varying chronological, experiential, and development stages on our journies, right? The Membership Chair regularly met with Michaela after services to get the scoop on the new families. Michaela worked with the DRE to make sure families got the registration forms and knew where to turn them in. I learned a lot from Michaela’s example.

Religious Education is community-owned and multi-layered. Leadership development is important Religious Education.