Sunday School is About Relationships
Posted on October 7, 2019 8:00 AM by David Frasure
if a first-time church guest asked you what Sunday School is all about, what do you think you would say? Some might say it is about teaching the Bible. That would only be partially correct. If it is about Bible teaching alone, then why do we worry about keeping the groups smaller? Why do we organize the groups by age/grade? Why do we encourage discussion and participation? Why worry about caring for one another’s needs in the class? If it is just about Bible teaching, then why don’t we have one big class with the most qualified teacher teaching it? Sunday School is a ministry that involves teaching the Bible and reaching new people and caring for the needs of people, but without relationships, the functions of the Sunday School could easily be done in another way.
Sunday School allows relationships to grow by spending time with people. As we spend time with people in the classroom setting, we can learn about the Bible from one another, but in the process, we learn about each other as well. If a Sunday School class is deliberate about it, relationships may also grow outside the classroom setting. By visiting over coffee, at an event or even in someone’s home, we move from casual acquaintances to close friendship just by spending time together. Sunday School gives us that opportunity.
Relationships grow in a place of safety. In a good Sunday School class, people feel they can express their hurts without out fear that someone will gossip about them. People can share their struggles without fear of being judged and condemned. If criticism about the church staff or a church decision flows freely in a classroom, people feel they are in the middle of a conflict and are unlikely to return. Even emotional political discussions can make people feel they are not in a safe environment. When we see that Sunday School is built on relationships, we can take the needed steps to create an environment that feels more open and safe.
Relationships grow through listening. God gave us two ears and two eyes and only one mouth. Perhaps there is a message there for us. We can listen better when we notice body language with our eyes and listen to what is being said and how it is being communicated. By focused listening, we can perhaps feel the emotion behind what is being said and be less preoccupied by what we are about to say. By asking questions about the person’s comments and repeating a paraphrase of what they have shared, we make deeper connections by being better listeners.
Relationships grow through motives of love and acts of kindness. Simply remembering a person’s birthday or anniversary can communicate love. Knowing a person’s favorite color or empathizing with what they experience in their workplace can communicate love. Praying for or with someone is an act of love. Love is meaningless unless it is communicated, so words and acts of kindness are vital for growing deeper in relationships.
Relationships can take you in the right direction or the wrong direction. Teens get caught up in gangs and toxic peer groups because of wrong relationships. With social media and interactive video games, predators can take advantage of kids longing for a meaningful relationship. Even adults can be pulled into destructive and unhealthy activities in their quest for stronger relationships. In the church, we have a powerful relationship tool called the Sunday School. Like any tool, it can only do its job in the hands of a willing worker.