The forgotten “school” for the rearing of the children of the covenant among us is undoubtedly the Sunday School. The work of the home is constantly held before us. The church’s instruction in the catechism classes receives due attention. We stress the importance of our good Protestant Reformed Christian schools. But Sunday School is overlooked.
Many of our churches have their Sunday School. Although Sunday School is not an official work of the church like catechism, the consistory promotes and supervises the instruction in Sunday School. Sunday School is for the younger children of the church, usually between the ages of 4 or 5 and 12 or 13.
The hour of Sunday School on a Sabbath morning after the worship service is devoted to the teaching of the history of the Bible by a competent member of the church, the children’s reciting of Bible texts that they memorized, and singing the Psalms.
Sunday School in the Protestant Reformed Churches teaches covenant children the Word of God.
It is not an hour of crafts and entertainment. There are no puppet shows.
Neither is it a meeting for the evangelizing of unregenerated little heathens. The teachers are not Arminian soul-winners, playing on the emotions (and off the ignorance) of little children, so that they “accept Jesus as their Savior.”
Protestant Reformed parents must beware that they do not send their children to the anti-covenantal, baptistic Vacation Bible Schools where the heresy of free-will is practiced. This would be a deliberate exposure of our baptized covenant children to the lies that overthrow everything we believe about the covenant of grace and God’s salvation of our children in this covenant.
I recall the incident, now many years ago, involving a dear uncle. However it happened, a small child of this Reformed stalwart attended a neighborhood Vacation Bible School. At supper of the first day of the school, the little fellow let drop that he “got saved today.” “You what?” exclaimed the astonished father, nearly choking on the potatoes. “I accepted Jesus at Bible school,” explained the boy, matter-of-factly. A surprised Arminian Baptist soon heard the gospel of sovereign grace, the truth of God’s saving elect children of believers usually in infancy, and that one little boy would not be returning to the Bible school.
Most of the Protestant Reformed churches with Sunday School conduct the classes during the summer months. The season, therefore, is upon us.
Helping in the teaching of the very youngest children this season will be a new Sunday School paper. And this is the main point of this editorial, to make the parents of these Sunday School children aware of the new paper.
The Protestant Reformed Sunday School Association has always published a fine paper, Our Guide. But this paper had to present whatever Bible history was being studied for the whole range of ages of the students. If the story was pitched at the 11-year old children, it was too hard for the 5-year olds. If the history was told to the 5-year old students, it tended to be too simple for the older children.
The new paper is for the youngest children, between the ages of 4 and 7. It is called Our Guide for Little Ones in the Sunday School. The writer is Mr. Don Doezema, who also continues to write the companion paper for the older children. The new paper tells the history in an interesting way. It brings the history down to the level of the very young. There is explanation of the history. It too is in language that the little ones can understand. Each lesson includes questions about both the facts and the meaning of the lesson. An example.
The history, or story:
No room left for two poor travelers from Nazareth. So a barn, a stable—that’s the only shelter left for Joseph and Mary in the town of Bethlehem…. Think about that. The promised Messiah. The King who would sit on David’s throne. Wrapped in rags … and put in a manger for His bed. Can you believe that?
Earthly riches and earthly power have nothing to do with the kind of King that Jesus is…. He took on Himself our poverty, our spiritual poverty, to give us freedom from sin…. The second reason why Jesus was born in a stable was to show what kind of people we are. No room in the inn. When Jesus came into this world, there was no room for Him. That’s the way it was. That’s the way it always is. No one wants the kind of Savior Jesus is. No one invites Jesus into his heart. No one, by himself, comes to Jesus. The Father in heaven brings him.
The questions: “When Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, how did it happen that they had to stay in a barn at night? Where did they lay the baby Jesus when He was born?”
To get the children’s attention, there are fitting pictures drawn by Connie Meyer. None is of Jesus. There are also maps, pictures to color, dot-to-dot devices, and the like.
Each lesson gives a Bible text for the children to memorize.
This season, the Bible history is that of Jesus in the gospels, beginning with His birth.
Good as the paper is, it will not serve its purpose if parents merely hand it to their children. Parents should read the lesson to their children. Each lesson is divided into two parts so that parents can cover the lesson in two sittings. Especially the youngest—the 4 and 5-year olds—will need some parental explanation about this word or that idea. Then the parents can go over the questions with the children.
Both editions of Our Guide are available to all who may be interested, particularly parents or Sunday School teachers outside the Protestant Reformed Churches. For sample copies, write the Protestant Reformed Sunday School Association, 4949 Ivanrest Ave. SW, Grandville, MI 49418.
May God bless the work this summer of our forgotten school.