My youngest son graduates from high school tonight. He has been in school for thirteen years (including kindergarten). He knows so much more than he did back when he was five years old. School has helped him to learn many topics and subjects along with many lessons about life and relationships.
Sunday School, too, has the potential to instill many life lessons within participants. While Sunday School is voluntary, growth as a follower of Christ is not optional. Sunday School over a period of years teaches many lessons about the Old Testament and New Testament; about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; about God’s ways and will; about living as God’s people in the world; and so much more. On top of that Sunday School offers important lessons in caring for people, relationships, evangelism, and worship.
In Sunday School, there are no tests. There are no grades. There often are no concrete measurements of progress. And yet, a discerning parent, peer, teacher, pastor, or Sunday School director can see growth over time. Lives are changed. Knowledge grows. Wisdom is lived out in daily decisions. Relationships and ministry happen even when no one is planning them. Leaders grow and step into positions of responsibility. Respect is earned.
My son graduates tonight but plans to pursue college which means at least one more graduation is yet ahead. There are times when I think graduations would be helpful in Sunday School. But like my son, there might be more than one graduation moment. There might be more than one time for celebrating what God has done in the life of the believer. Perhaps there is. Baptism is one of those graduation times for the new believer.
Perhaps completion of a new member class could be considered another graduation. Maybe the successful integration of the believer into a Sunday School class or small group could be considered a type of graduation. Certainly involvement of a believer in a place of service is yet another mark of progress. And for some, another graduation might be stepping up into a place of leadership in a ministry–as a teacher, team leader, deacon, or other position.
What if the “family” within a Sunday School class were to become cheerleaders for every class member completing successive graduations? What if they held each other accountable to continue to make progress? What if learning was made even more important because of the need to utilize it in preparing for the next graduation? How could you help your members realize that they are making real spiritual progress? Give it some thought and help me put some meat on the bones of this idea. What do you think? But don’t just think about it! Do it! Be revolutionary!