During the 18th Century Industrial Revolution, many children of poor families couldn’t go to school and were forced into child labour. These children were free on Sundays and so they loitered around in the streets, creating a nuisance and social problems.
Robert Raikes, a Christian, saw the situation and the spiritual needs of these children. He was worried about the future of these children and the society of England. With this at heart, he started a Sunday school to educate these children. In 1780, Robert Raikes started teaching these children how to read and write. He also taught them biblical values, which would enhance the morality that would shape the lives of these children.
At present, our children can go to school to learn all kinds of knowledge. At church, we have Sunday schools to teach God’s words. Our children are far better off than those days. Thus, how would the Sunday school respond to the challenges we are facing nowadays?
To me, Sunday School is an important place to mould the lives of the children, especially for those families whose spirituality are not strong. The Sunday school plays a vital role in leading these children in the growth of their faith. The biblical teachings at the Sunday school will make up for any lack at home, helping these children to learn about God and to grow in His words.
Practice faith at home
Most children today are enjoying a life of comfort zone. They are equipped with digital gadgets. With the availability of information technology, they can access into fictitious world and roam to their liking with just a smart phone. And both of their parents are often forced to work to make ends meet, often times they are stressed out after work. Though they could relax during their limited free time, they too are busy on the phones. Family sitting together to communicate and enjoy quality time is now a rare picture and a great challenge.
To pass on Christian faith to the next generation, parents need to set examples at home by having a home altar that family members can share and pray and practice their faith together. It has however become more difficult in the present time due to all the distractions. Hence Sunday School plays a greater role in nurturing faith of the children.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to pay more attention to family religious education, to build up the home altar to worship together as a family. Let’s devote more to nurture our next generation to be faithful disciples of Christ. We can then accomplish the linkage in faith with each generation to come. Just like Deuteronomy 6: 4-7 taught us: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
If we as parents, grandparents, relatives, take up the task of leading the children in praying and reading the bible at home, Sunday School could be renamed Everyday School. Inasmuch, teaching our children to know God is not constrained to Sundays at church. We can then raise a new generation of faithful disciples, who are practicing faith in their daily life.
This is my hope for the Sunday School, parents and all Christian family members: We practice our faith not only in church but also at home, making our home a training ground to nurture devoted disciples for Christ. When these children grow up, no matter where they go, they will adhere to their faithful examples conceived earlier and remain true-hearted Christians. I sincerely hope that through family discipleship and Sunday School, we are able to pass our baton on to our successors, generations after generations, as dedicated disciples of Christ.