The Sunday School and it’s Work
Sunday School Management
Read: 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40
In the two verses which we have read together, you will notice these statements: “God is not the author of a tumult, or unquietness,” and “Let all things be done decently and in order.” These words are equally true for Sunday School work as for any other function in the church —for Sunday School work is part of the testimony. No school can remain long in a healthy condition where there is not good order and godly management.
We know there are small companies of believers in many places, and all the responsibility of the Sunday School, as well as other matters may fall on one or two brethren. Let them keep at it and God will bless. In larger schools, one brother should have the general oversight of the school, and should be free from the responsibility of teaching a class. Such a one is known as Superintendent. He has a heavy load to carry.
The Superintendent should not act in an arbitrary way, so as to cause the teachers to feel that they are “under authority,” but he should give leadership to the school. Once-a-month teachers’ meetings are a good thing. The Superintendent can ask for the free expression of opinion. At such meetings all matters can be fully discussed and all sides heard. When there is not oneness of mind, it is wise to give time that the matter may be more fully considered. A Superintendent should not force things through that might mar the harmony among his teachers. There is wisdom in the proverb, “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).
Organization of Classes
At these meetings the organization of classes and the promotion of pupils from class to class should be discussed. Might I offer the suggestion that eight or ten scholars are all that an ordinary teacher can well manage. The children should be, as nearly as possible, of the same age. This enables the teacher to speak according to the intelligence and capacity of the pupils. The habit of older girls bringing very young brothers or sisters to the class should be discouraged, as it distracts the attention from the lesson and is a real hindrance. Younger children are better taken care of in the Tiny Tots class. The classes should not be huddled together, if it can be avoided.
When it is desirous to re-arrange classes, this should be done, as far as possible, with the full knowledge and consent of the teachers concerned. Teachers are to be considered in this matter, especially when they show a special interest in the spiritual welfare of any particular scholar. On the other hand, teachers should be willing to part with scholars, even if personally attached to them, when it is for the scholar’s welfare and for the general good of the school. I think too, that children should not be transferred from one class to another against their own wishes, for often they are lost to the school because of being changed against their will. The work of organizing the school requires much prayer and patience.
When children are being changed from one class to another, it is better to speak of “promoting” children rather than of changing or transferring them.
Visiting is a very important factor in Sunday School work and in the building up of attendance. Visiting should be done, calling at the homes of the scholars periodically. (Every three or six months is not too often). This gets the teacher in touch with the parents and creates interest, sympathy and support in the school. Absent scholars should be followed up at once. It may be that there is sickness or some other reason that would call for aid. One Sunday School teacher recently lost two scholars. The cause was that a little girl from another class had been ill and away from the school for six weeks. Nobody called. The mother noticed the lack of interest and sent the child to another Sunday School—her two companions went with her. As a result of lack of visiting one sick scholar, three were lost to the school.
A godly teacher visiting a home from which she missed several of her scholars, all belonging to the same family, learned to her deep regret that an enemy had been at work raising prejudice in the parents’ mind against the Gospel. The parents had forbidden the children to attend that Sunday School any longer. The children were very sad, for they were very much attached to their teacher and she to them. She pleaded with the parents but all seemed to no purpose. They would not yield and she was reluctantly about to leave. Fixing a loving, longing look on the little ones who stood around, she, with tears in her eyes, kissed each of them a “good-bye.” This caused the children to weep bitterly. It was a touching sight — too strong for the parents to withstand, for they saw the true love of that godly teacher expressed thus. They relented and at once declared their children could return to their places in the Sunday School, which they did. There is wonderful power in love!
Another good way to get in personal touch with the parents is at the Sunday School outing. This is very helpful. It frequently gets you the co-operation of the parents with the work of the school.
When parents are invited to the service and come, teachers should make a point to speak to them, especially the parents of scholars in their classes.
Punctuality is the soul of business—in the Lord’s work as elsewhere. Punctuality on the part of the Superintendent and the teachers greatly helps toward retaining good order. If they fail, nothing else need be expected from the scholars.
Teachers should be in their places ahead of time to welcome the children upon their arrival. Opening of the school and closing on time should be rigidly observed.
Some schools hang up a motto on the door at the entrance or at front having these words in bold letters:
I AM EARLY
What a pleasure!
While the opening hymn is being sung the motto is reversed and then reads,
I AM LATE
What a pity!
This has a decided influence in bringing the children to school on time.
Reverence and Order
It is important that reverence during prayer should be demanded, the children bowing their heads and closing their eyes while God is being addressed. In a certain Sunday School hangs a text at the front of the school — “Thou God seest me.” The attention of the scholars is frequently directed to this verse, with good effect.
Prayers should not be too long nor rambling, but right to the point. A brother was once asked to close the school in prayer. After he was finished a boy in one of the classes said, “He prayed six minutes.” Two were at fault — the boy who did not show reverence by closing his eyes during prayer, and the brother who prayed too long.
A final word of advice on this subject: A school of boys and girls is full of life, like a team of frisky horses, ready to go! You must keep a snug rein on them, so you can check them when you wish. They can frequently be controlled by the eye. When you speak, say what you mean, and mean what you say. The school must always be kept orderly. Remember, you cannot sow seed in a whirlwind. Freedom with control and liberty with order is the Lord’s way everywhere, and the Sunday School is no exception.