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Book Review: Sunday school that really works
Steve Par is the author of the above named book. He is well conversant with how Sunday school functions. While reading through the book, it is evident that the author utilizes a lot of figures. Additionally, he has conducted adequate research to back up his statistics. This is a clear indication of the thoroughness he had in his research. Furthermore, he does not come up with his own generalizations or “education platitudes” to support his comments.
On the contrary, he makes use of tangible facts. He perfectly addresses the claim that “Sunday schools does not work.” According to his arguments, the community can only be reached by the church using Sunday schools as a strategy to reach this people. He writes that the Sunday schools that are non-evangelistic major challenge is not in their program but their failure in utilizing the program as tool for evangelizing1.
A question on why there is expansion in some Sunday schools while others remain stagnant has also been examined by Steve. As a matter of fact, it is assumed by various people that there exists no distinction between Sunday schools. Thus if they were alike, then the outcomes would be the same.
From the research conducted by Steve, he came up with ten attributes that were common amongst Sunday schools that were growing. Among the ten attributes, only eight of them were being practiced by these Sunday schools. The attributes were such as supporting of pastors, training, class and leaders organization high standards, enrollment of new Christians, training individuals on how to become successful evangelizers, carrying out of weekly outreach, developing of new units, space and prospect list. He concludes the book by saying the following words, “I fear that some leaders have abandoned Sunday school, not because it does work but because of the work involved in making it grow”2.
The significant strength about the book is that it rejuvenates Sunday school as it has been for ages considered a neglected ministry. The churches are encouraged by the author of the book to strengthen their Sunday schools. This is through intentionally making it evangelistic. Furthermore, the churches can use strategies and methods that are proven and are being put into use in numerous churches that are growing.
He gives vital direction to churches in order to help them analyze their current programs and move forward to fulfill their mission. Additionally, the book enhances individual skills and knowledge in terms of managing the ministry dealing with Sunday school and leaders training. This is evidenced from the questions at the end of each chapter. The questions indulge the leaders in discussion and interaction as well as applying what they have learned from the content of the book.
The book enables the leaders to have a clue on what they really want from their congregation. Therefore, as leaders they need to take responsibility such as praying for themselves as well as the members of their congregation. Moreover, they need to prioritize on training and learn skills on how to handle their congregation. Skills are significant as they are critical to a Sunday school ministry leader. Therefore, Sunday school leaders should invest their time in reading this book and applying them in their daily teachings. Training will enable Sunday school teachers to apply what they have learned. In addition to that, training will provide them with opportunities to expand their skills and knowledge.
From the conclusion of the book, some leaders not only abandon Sunday school because of the work involved but because of other commitments they have. It is important for us to understand that, it takes an individual sacrifice, be it a leader or pastor, to implement the aforementioned attributes. The Sunday school leader acts as a volunteer who is tasked with keeping of records. However, to some extent the conclusion might be true.
For instance, Churches that have Sunday schools that are ineffective go against the tenets that makes Sunday school an organization that is highly viable. These churches temper with biblical teachings, they do not effectively train Sunday school teachers, the normal teachings of the Bible are substituted with other group activity and Sunday school is made to be less than one single church activity. As a matter of fact, Sunday school attributes are difficult to sustain and implement. This is because of the resistance faced while trying to implement the attributes. For instance, only a few leaders are willing to participate in an organized training.
Apart from commitments, there are other factors that have made leaders abandon Sunday school. For example, the Sunday school teaching in not powerful. Some evangelists and denominational leaders always claim that the teaching are below standard, some point out that their attitude get ruined when they attend these classes. Furthermore, the expectations of the public have risen while the teachings are getting worse and worse.
Sunday school has also been abandoned by leaders as they view it as a competition and to some extent embarrassment. In summary, there are various causes for the abandonment of Sunday school. Therefore, as the body of Christ we need to agree that we are in great problem and find solutions to the problem. Problems can only be solved when we accept we have failed and try to rectify where we have gone wrong.
It is evident that children can be taught values they need to fulfill just by attending to Sunday school classes. They are taught what they should do and avoid in the society they live in. Moreover, they are taught actions that are appropriate.
They are also taught about what is happening in the world they live in and get answers to their pressing questions. In Sunday school classes, the leaders of the youth, the caregivers, parents and ministers among other people are presented with the opportunity to interact with their children in ways that are honest, sensitive direct and gentle. This enables them to provide support to their kids by making them the first priority in the society.
From the content of the book, as a future disciple of Christ one can learn the do’s and don’ts and why Sunday schools has been abandoned by leaders. Through identification of the weaknesses mentioned in the book content, an individual can work towards amending the loopholes that exists in our churches today.
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For instance, training of leaders should be emphasized on in order to diversify their knowledge and help individuals in Sunday school classes to grow spirituality. It is only through learning that an individual can gain skills and knowledge. The programs implemented should be followed strictly and revised each and every time to ensure the growth of people as Disciples of Christ.
Steve, Parr R. 2010. Sunday School That Really Work: A Strategy for Connecting congregations and Communities. Grand Rapids: Kregel Press.
- (Steve 2010, 16).
- (Steve 2010, 79).