What is the Purpose of Sunday School?

"The supreme need of the average Sunday school teacher is not a method of work but a motive for work.  Pour a notebook full of new methods into a cold brain and they will accomplish about as much as a tank full of cold water emptied into a cold engine.  You've got to have a fire beneath the water.  You've got to get a motive that will kindle a fire in your heart beneath your brain."  Edward Pell

The Sunday school is not something apart from the church.  Nor is it a part of the church.  Nor is it an appendix to the church.  It is the church itself organized for a specific purpose.  The purpose of the Sunday school is the development of character by means of the study of the Word of God.

Its main textbook is the Bible - not because the Bible is good history or good literature - but because the Bible is the Word of God.  The facts of the Bible are vehicles of the truth that God has revealed about Himself and about His will concerning us - the light He has given us by which we may find our way to Him.

The business of the Sunday school is to teach, not just for knowledge, but that they may be something and do something.  It does not undervalue knowing, but it places the emphasis upon being.

The great purpose of the Sunday school is to bring the students in contact with the Word of God, and in contact with a teacher whose life has been transformed by that Word, with the hope that from the pages of the printed book, or from the hand-touch or heart-touch of the teacher, there may find its way into the heart of the student that which will transform his or her life and develop him or her into a person like Jesus.

So what should a Sunday school teacher be like?  They should be living epistles of Christ written so plainly that little children can read them in their eyes and in their touch.  They will be vehicles of love that will enable them to mold the little rosy lumps of clay placed in their hands into the image of Christ who lives in their hearts.

Adapted from "Secrets of Sunday School Teaching," by Edward Leigh Pell, copyright 1912