Wes Bartel, director
of the national Sunday School Department of the Assemblies of God,
recently talked with Sunday School Promotions Coordinator Sharon
Ellard about Sunday school today.
PE: What can a person
expect to find in Sunday school today?
You can expect to develop lasting friendships. In Sunday school,
you will learn to live a better life Gods way. Sunday
school provides biblical answers to the tough questions of life.
It should be a place where you discover a divine purpose for living.
Obviously, you will explore Gods Word and discover truth.
You should also find in Sunday school an atmosphere of understanding
and acceptance. Above all, Sunday school should be a place where
you encounter God.
PE: What difference
does attending Sunday school make for adults?
BARTEL: An effective
Sunday school class is geared not only for information but also
for life change. The small-group setting of Sunday school provides
accountability, systematic Bible study that helps us think like
Christ, and opportunities for ministry.
PE: What can parents
expect their children to learn in Sunday school?
BARTEL: The Bible
instructs us: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and
when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
The age-level classes of Sunday school help parents begin their
childs spiritual growth from birth. A systematic study of
the Bible prepares children to make biblical choices every day at
home, at play and at school. Lessons also seek to lead every child
to a personal relationship with Christ at an early age, followed
by being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
PE: Is Sunday school
still relevant for todays youth?
school is probably more relevant for youth than it has ever been.
Young people are confronted with diverse religions, decadent lifestyles
and unbounded consumerism. In this setting, suicide has become one
of the leading causes of death among teenagers. The unchanging truth
of the Bible brings hope and stability. Knowing and believing the
Bible provides unchanging principles to strengthen their relationships
with Christ and request the power of the Holy Spirit.
PE: Describe a high-quality
school has the potential to change lives, but its not automatic.
A high-quality Sunday school has been intentionally developed. It
includes committed teachers who not only are well trained and have
a passion for evangelism and discipleship but also depend on the
power of the Holy Spirit. Its Bible learning is supported by curriculum
that is both cutting edge and doctrinally sound, like Radiant Life.
Its lesson plans are tailored for students learning styles
and life stage. It promotes an atmosphere that makes learning enjoyable
and life changing.
PE: How does Sunday
school contribute to the spiritual health of a church?
BARTEL: It provides
a place where teaching, discipleship, ministry, fellowship and evangelism
can all take place. Research shows that Sunday school is the single
most effective assimilation tool the church has.
PE: What do you see
as the role of Sunday school in a post-9/11 world?
BARTEL: The role
has not changed. Most of us will never forget the heroic act of
Todd Beamer after he said, "Lets roll!" Todd grew
up in Sunday school, and he and his wife, Lisa, were Sunday school
teachers. The kind of stability that allowed Todd to act with courage
in a crisis and helped him to live a consistent Christian life was
a direct result of effective discipleship. Its encouraging
to me that people in the United States have confidence in Sunday
school. Sunday school attendance increased by 6 percent in 2001,
according to George Barna. That means more than 2 million more people
began to attend Sunday school last year.