Joyful Noise and Children in Sunday School

Sunday School has been a staple of my life for as long as I can remember—I was always in Sunday School as a little girl, a teenager, a young adult and now as a not-as-young adult.  In fact, I’ve had the opportunity to be a teacher of adults for going on thirty years.  But I think it is Sunday School for children that really serves as the foundation for the health of our church.

God gave the Word to the Israelites through Moses in this way:  “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV)   It seems to me that, with these words, he was pretty much inventing children’s Sunday School.

We are given such privilege and responsibility to be among the ones who pass along the Word of the LORD to those who follow after us.  Although not everyone is called to be a teacher of children’s Sunday School, we are all called to encourage our children and grandchildren to participate.  Those weekly Sunday School lessons about David and Jonah and Samuel and Esther and Ruth and all the other men and women whose stories bring real life to the Bible really do mean something to young minds learning the ways of the LORD.   I know many adults who came up in Sunday School whose knowledge of the Bible has been built on the lessons they learned in those early childhood classes.  Sometimes when we get older, though, we forget that Sunday School is not only a great place to learn the foundational stories of our faith, it is also a place to have fun.  Fun is sometimes noisy, messy, and not very subtle.

With that in mind, the Director of Children’s Programs at my church recently asked to meet with me about what she feared was going to be an “issue” on Sunday mornings.  My Sunday School class meets in a room on a wing of our church just on the edge of a children’s section of rooms that are used for their opening assembly and other such activities.  The leadership were about to make some program changes that would include more movement and more physical activity, and she had concerns that my class would be disrupted by extra noise or other commotion.  Now that these changes have been instituted, we have found that we experience no disruption at all.  The members of my class (nearly all grandparents, by the way) have resolved to remind ourselves that every little voice we hear, every song that’s sung, every footfall  that passes by our door is a signal that God’s Church is growing and preparing for what comes next.  We know these are sounds of God’s Kingdom on the move.