With One Accord
“Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called … endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4:1, 3).
“For all the work we put into this Sunday school, we certainly do not see much blessing!”
Do you ever hear this remark in your Sunday school? If so, then perhaps you have got a problem in staff unity! The early Church, with its abundance and variety of spiritual blessings, was characterized by a spirit of fellowship and oneness in prayer and service. However, where there is a lack of such spiritual unity in the Lord, there will certainly be a lack of blessing.
Immediately following the Lord’s ascension, the apostles and others were found in an upper room, where they continued with one accord in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:14).
Again, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly … they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:1-4).
Furthermore, they continued “daily with one accord in the temple .. . praising God, and having favour with all the people And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:46-47).
In the midst of persecution, “They lifted up their voice to God with one accord,” praising Him for His wisdom and power” (Acts 4:24).
As they moved about in their service for the Lord, again, “They were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch” (Acts 5:12).
Important spiritual decisions were made when the Church was “assembled with one accord” (Acts 15:25).
How beautifully the early Christians fulfilled the Lord’s commandment, “Love one another; as I have loved you … By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Paul, too, realized the importance of unity in the church when he prayed for the Roman Christians: “The God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind (accord) and one mouth glorify God” (Rom. 15:5-6).
Since the purpose of the Sunday school is to glorify God, and since we can glorify only when we are praying, working, and praising with one accord, it follows that a Sunday school which is characterized by disunity and a lack of fellowship amongst the staff cannot possibly glorify God; and, therefore, cannot fulfil the Sunday school’s prime purpose.
When a Sunday school enjoys a true spirit of unity in Christ, the evidence of fellowship and oneness is seen in various ways.
For one thing, relations between the superintendent and each teacher will be characterized by Christian love, mutual respect, and understanding. If a proper tone is established at this level, the spirit will permeate the rest of the school and will manifest itself in good relations amongst the teachers.
The children will also be affected, indeed they are probably much keener than most adults in detecting a lack of good “school spirit”. And if children are “taken” with the atmosphere of the school, no doubt parents too will sense the tone of general goodwill and Christian comradeship existing throughout all of the school’s departments and relationships.
Within the school itself, Christian unity will be seen in the staff’s attitude and conduct towards one another, both in public and in private. A willingness to pray and work together for a common goal will be commonplace, rather than a rarity. Co-operation in working out programs of mutual concern will be a hallmark of every phase of the school’s ministry.
Without question, unity amongst the staff is of all things most essential to the spiritual progress and prosperity of the work. And if fellowship and oneness are missing, the lack is perfectly evident to all concerned and the lack of blessing is equally obvious.
Towards Greater Unity
No doubt every Sunday school would benefit greatly from an improvement in the level of Christian fellowship existing amongst the staff. Whether conditions are good, bad, or indifferent at the moment, there are several steps which can be taken to improve the situation, no matter what the local peculiarities might be.
Spiritually qualified teachers are the prime requisite in every Sunday school, and without them, there can be little hope for any great measure of spiritual fellowship amongst the staff.
Hence, in the choice of new teachers, a great deal of prayer and consideration is necessary in order to ensure the selection of people who will have a godly exercise about getting along with the superintendent, the other teachers, the children and parents, and also with the elders of the church, who, after all, are charged with the ultimate responsibility for all the teaching carried on by the church.
Prayer for each other is a potent force for unity amongst the staff. If the superintendent prays for each teacher by name daily, and if each teacher prays for every other member of the staff, problems in unity will invariably become less frequent and less serious.
Sharing of problems in prayer can also contribute effectively to a warmer fellowship throughout the school. Every teacher might make a weekly report to the superintendent, telling him about one special need or problem in connection with his class. The superintendent can then make a list covering all the classes and distribute this to every teacher. In this way, all the staff can pray unitedly for the outstanding problem facing each individual teacher.
Encouragement of prayer on the part of Christian children is a potential source of spiritual power seldom tapped in our Sunday schools, generally speaking. The faith of children is often purer and stronger than that of adults, and the young should be taught and encouraged to pray for their unsaved parents and classmates. They can also become a vital part of the work by praying for teachers and other Christians in the Sunday school as well.
Private discussion of problems and differences is essential; that is, the superintendent and the teachers should never air their differences in front of the children; nor, for that matter, in front of anybody else. Furthermore, it would be wise for all the staff to agree solemnly amongst themselves never to discuss differences without praying first individually and then unitedly. There is nothing like prayer for keeping a potentially useful discussion from degenerating into an unprofitable argument.
Recognition of gift is essential if jealousy and needless offence are to be avoided. Different teachers are gifted in different ways. If every one thinks he is equally gifted with every other member of the Body of Christ, friction and unpleasantness are inevitable. With a proper recognition of each other’s gift, and a humble appreciation of one’s own gift and limitations, each particular gift will be given full scope in the ministry of the Sunday school and there will be no silly pettiness about some people not being given “their turn”.
Sharing of ideas, books, visual aids, and various resource materials helps to generate a spirit of fellowship in the work. If a teacher gets a good idea which would be of value to others, the sharing of the idea will be of benefit to a greater number than would otherwise be possible, but also, it will be a means of drawing the people concerned closer to one another.
Assistance with the singing is a possibility for every teacher in the school. If a teacher knows the subjects of his lesson a few weeks in advance, he can tell the song leader about these subjects. Then the latter can try to teach and sing choruses and hymns about the same subjects on the appropriate Sundays. This will reinforce the teacher’s work in the class, and further promote the unity desired.
Campaigning together for new pupils can serve to bring all the staff closer together. This is also the case with programs of visitation aimed at bringing back absentees and at reaching parents of Sunday school children.
A Sunday school curriculum is both an outcome of unity and a contribution to unity. Only when a staff is wholeheartedly united in their labours for the Lord will they be willing to assume a joint undertaking of such magnitude as a course of study comprising all the grades in the school. On the other hand, once an accepted course is in force, the spirit of fellowship is enhanced inasmuch as every teacher feels that his work is a necessary part of an overall program, spiritually designed to cover the whole Bible and to which his fellow-teachers are also contributing.
The Church of God is a spiritual unity, — a fact which every Sunday school should demonstrate. Only those who are willing to strive for the practical fulfilment of the divine ideal are worthy of the calling of a Sunday school teacher.
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Suggestion Of The Month
Growth in the attendance at the Sunday School may be promoted through the use of contests between girls and boys. Records should be prominently displayed in the school, week by week. Progress can be indicated in various ways: by a paper-doll girl and boy each climbing their respective ladders, every rung of which represents so many pupils, or by two sail boats racing toward the finishing line. The contest period always should be short; say, a month or two. Simple inexpensive prizes can be awarded the group (either girls or boys) which attains the best total over the allotted time, that is, the total of all the individual Sunday attendances.
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Every life that would be strong, must have its “Holy of Holies” into which only God may enter.
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Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves. J. M. Barrie.
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“If the Lord will,” let us labour;
“If the Lord will,” let us rest;
We must learn, in calm obedience,
That His will is always best.