ENGLISH VERSION - Bulletin Nº 23 - February 28, 2021

SUNDAY SCHOOL:

Form & Content

by

Pr. Renato Prates

forma e conteúdo2.jpg

Fonte: Toronto School Reform / IntraMuros Magazine

Since its founding in 1780 by Robert Raikes, the Sunday Bible School that sought to serve only children also began to teach adults, like you and me, and it did so successfully until the 20th century, where society has undergone profound transformations, such example, the migration of rural populations to the city; leaving women to face the demands of the labor market, together with their husbands; and the advent of contemporary activism, which reduced household time and family dedication to ecclesiastical activities, which have become elective. That is, instead of participating in two weekly Bible studies, usually on Thursdays and Sundays, they started to choose between one or the other.

 

Other families decided to replace Sunday morning at EBD, with family leisure time, which is contrary to our principles of liturgy, but which has become the only option for such a busy home during the week. Another important detail is that from the 90s onwards, the so-called “Children's Cults” or “Children's Messages” during the evening service, on the one hand, they offered an important didactic resource for children, who did not understand the erudite language of the preachers, on the other hand, they started to repeat the same teaching and didactic material that was offered on Sunday School, but once, unconsciously leading the church families to choose the most comfortable meeting for them to visit the church, the Evening Worship, emptying the Sunday School.

 

More observant Christian leaders decided to adopt strategic measures to alleviate the problem of the Sunday School emptying. Some have ended it; others decided to perform this activity before the Evening or Morning Service; some decided to join the two activities on Sunday. However, the major problem faced in this rethinking of this teaching program is the binomial FORM X CONTENT.

 

Are we more concerned with the shape of EBD or its content? If our concern is with the form, we may fall into the error of religious traditionalism, of maintaining a unique program, on the same day and time, only because our ancestors established this, at a time, region and culture totally different from ours. Traditionalism has nothing to do with tradition. Traditionalism is religiosity and meaningless attachment to a religious custom, under the pretext that “it has always been like this”, so we must keep it that way, without any biblical support for this. Tradition is good when tied to the Scriptures and submitted to the mind of Christ, which is always renewed!

 

If we are religious traditionalists, we will endeavor to maintain EBD as it was 100 years ago, on the same day, time and methodology, even though only 1/3 of the members are attending it regularly. If we are traditional, we will keep God's people in constant study of the Scriptures, even if it is not Sunday morning. After all, there is no explicit order in the Bible to create a fixed EBD! Believers met daily from house to house, as recorded in the book of Acts of the Apostles.

 

On the other hand, when our concern is the content of the Sunday School and not the form, we are more likely to succeed, leading the flock to systematic weekly Bible studies, both as a community and also individually, since this is the role of Sunday School.

 

 Therefore, if weekly morning Bible meetings have become difficult and end up overwhelming the few teachers we have in the church, in addition to wasting content, since that book or lesson could be applied on another day and time for a larger group of brothers, for don't you do it? Currently, our church has offered all the studies that would be available in Sunday School, through its weekly small groups: On Tuesday, we have the discipleship group for new believers - the old class of catechumens; in the fourth, we have the women and adolescents groups; in the fifth, the men's one; on Friday, the morning prayer meeting and the children's group, which in turn, use Sunday School children's material. These small groups must come together in prayer, but also in Bible study, with material supervised by the pastor of the church, as occurs in Sunday School. It is estimated that we have about 80% of the major and minor members involved in these ministries, which is a rarity for a traditional Bible School. So, if the question is the content and not the form, we are fulfilling the role of the Bible School.

 

Besides, when children return to Sunday worship, they will continue to receive the teaching of the Scriptures, along the lines of the Sunday Bible School. We do not want to underestimate its legacy, but rather to draw attention to the reality almost invisible to many leaders and believers: most are still too attached to a format and not to content. Many churches we know maintain Sunday Schools just for traditionalism and face their empty seats on Sunday morning. Many of them fail to develop cell ministry during the week, which makes it even more difficult for believers to learn.

 

We have spoken with several pastors, elders and church members who confess that the EBD of their churches does not work, but does not have the necessary initiative or support from the members themselves or the leadership, to effect a radical and productive change in the teaching of the church. On the other hand, we have observed inside and outside Brazil, that countless churches have rethought the traditional format of biblical teaching in their communities, experiencing the atmosphere of spiritual growth that they have never experienced before. In these churches, adults receive consistent teaching through Sunday sermons, while children are indoctrinated with high-quality teaching materials in Child Worship. During the week, cells and ministries take on the role of deepening the teaching of believers, through their carefully scheduled meetings. Thus, believers are not trapped in four walls, but they also fulfill the Lord Jesus' ideology, from house to house!

 

This is the perspective from which our church emerged ten years ago. It came to be a different church! With this, we do not intend to present any novelty that hurts the holiest concepts of the Holy Scriptures; rather, to develop a mentality transformed by the mind of Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church. We will always be submissive to what the Lord of the Work requires of us, and what he wants at this moment is the restoration of His people, His Worship, his House of Prayer!

 

This is exactly what we are doing as a leader of his church! We are rebuilding the Work of the Lord, starting with its most fundamental principles, all in good time: From simple to complex!

What is the Church? Stephen KaungQuarta Palavra
00:00 / 1:24:26

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Pandemic over

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Claudia

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