Stop Using the Term “Sunday School” ~ RELEVANT CHILDREN’S MINISTRY

Ever wonder where the name “Sunday School” originated?

Robert Raikes and Thomas Stock first established a Sunday School for the poor and orphaned in Gloucester in 1780.

Their ministry caused churches to establish Sunday Schools throughout England.  

By 1880, over 200,000 children were enrolled in these Sunday Schools. By 1850, the number had risen to over 2 million.

By the mid-19th century, Sunday School attendance had become an important aspect of childhood.  Even parents who did not attend church, sent their children to Sunday School.  

For many of you reading this, Sunday School was an important part of your childhood.  I grew up attending Sunday School every weekend.  It helped me get a solid faith foundation and made a positive impact in my spiritual journey.

That being said, I believe it’s time to stop using the term “Sunday School.”  Here’s why…

The last place a child wants to be on Sunday is where they have been all week.  The word “school” is not appealing to a child who has been sitting in school all week long. 

Dropping the name “Sunday School” doesn’t mean that you are dropping what happens at church on weekends.  Kids are still studying God’s Word and learning key truths to build their life on. 

Dropping the name “Sunday School” is not a doctrinal decision.  Rather it is a cultural decision.  It simply means you are “rebranding” the name to be more culturally relevant for today’s kids.

Find a creative name that more accurately describes what today’s kids are looking for.  Here are a few examples:

  • Small Groups – kids want to be part of a small group of kids that they can get to know and study the Bible with.
  • Kid Connection – kids want to connect with other kids and make friendships.
  • Life Groups – kids want to do life with other kids.

“Sunday School” sounds like kids will be in rows of chairs.  The best way to see kids discipled and growing in their faith is to put them in a small circle with other children. “Sunday School” carries a connotation that they will be lectured to while other creative names implies that kids will be in a group with other kids.  But in a circle, they will have the opportunity to talk, laugh, share and build relationships with other kids.  

“Sunday School” sounds like kids are being forced to attend.  It is mandatory for kids to attend school. Whether it’s at a traditional school, private school or home-school, they have to attend whether they like it or not.  For adults, it is like having to pay taxes.  You have to do it, whether you like it or not.

I often wonder, what if kids didn’t have to attend “Sunday School.”  

What if they got bored and could walk out right in the middle of it?  

What if their parents gave them the choice to attend or stay home (this does happen)?  Would they come or skip out?   

Our goal should be to create an irresistible environment that kids want to be a part of.  

And I believe tweaking the name to be more relevant does play a small part in this. 

Your turn.  

Do you call it “Sunday School?”

If not, what do you call it?

Do you think it makes any difference what you call it? Why or why not?

Share your thoughts and insights in the comment section below.


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