Recently there was given me a complete set of “Our Guide, For Use In the Protestant Reformed Sunday School” for the coming Sunday School term, along with a “Bulletin of the Protestant Reformed Sunday School Association” for distribution at the beginning of the new term to the parents. Perhaps by the time this appears in print, at least some of you will have received this bulletin and will know whereof I speak; I do not know what the schedule is. But I do wish to make a few comments on this subject.
In recent years “Our Guide”—with it, our Sunday Schools—has not prospered too well. There was a marked stagnation, evidenced concretely in the fact that “Our Guide,” the paper used in our Sunday Schools, had taken to offering reprints of lessons from previous years. This was, I think, a symptom of lack of progress and growth, of stagnation, of a certain staleness which had crept not only into our Sunday School paper but which had made its influence felt by the teachers, the pupils, and the parents as well. I felt this personally, and, as the teachers present will remember, I chided them for this in an address at a teachers’ mass meeting last spring,—not to scold them, but to prod and encourage them. As it happened, work was already being done at that time to bring about improvement.
Now that improvement has been accomplished!
And, in my opinion, having perused this set of papers, the improvement is marked! The Sunday School Association has succeeded in producing a paper which has real potential for a successful Sunday School term.
The present set of papers covers Bible history fromExodus 5 to I Samuel 8. Each paper contains, as before, lessons at two levels—for older and for younger children. But there are several points of merit in the renovated paper:
1) The paper is unified. Not only are the lessons at both levels unified; but the unity extends to tine Bible memory work and even to the new “Activities Page” which has replaced the continued story which was formerly printed.
2) The lessons are not only well written, but they are designed to stimulate interest and—what is more important—study on the part of the children.
3) Each lesson is accompanied by a set of study questions which are designed to assist the pupils, but which are also intentionally designed to assist the parents (as well as the teachers) in helping their children to study.
4) The lesson story, especially for older pupils, is intentionally made more difficult, in order to stimulate them to keep reaching. This is also a very good antidote for boredom at “the same stories over and over.”
5) Besides the regular weekly memory work, there is an optional merit system of memory work for children who memorize with little difficulty. And, personally, I cannot stress strongly enough the immense value of Bible memory work on the part of our children. Sunday School offers an excellent opportunity for this.
Finally, I wish to call attention to the “Bulletin” accompanying this set of papers. Before “Our Guide” is used in any family, it is a must to read this “Bulletin” and its valuable suggestions. One of the most valuable suggestions made is that parents treat the Sunday School paper in several sessions during the week, and that this can very nicely be integrated, in part, with family worship at the supper table. This suggestion has real potential.
The Sunday School Association is to be congratulated on this good step. In particular, I wish to express a word of appreciation to our genial News Editor, Mr. Don Doezema, and his wife, who did a tremendous amount of work in preparing the material of these papers.
It is my hope and prayer that this change for the better may also be an incentive to all concerned—teachers, students, and parents—in bringing about renewed vigor and vitality in our Sunday Schools.
In conclusion, I would certainly recommend that in congregations where there is no Sunday School arrangements be made that our families may be provided with the improved “Our Guide.”