Life magazine once dubbed the Sunday school the most wasted hour of the week. Not so, say curriculum people and Christian educators. Problems—yes, there are myriad. Challenges—yes, of course. But most people involved in the Sunday school are proud of what has been accomplished in the last decade, and they have dreams and goals for the next.

Yet enrollment in many Sunday schools is declining. Futuristic leaders in colleges and curriculum companies have to identify the new and continuing problems of the Sunday school. They must respond to those most immediately involved—the teachers and the students—if they are to meet the challenge of the 1980s. How will they answer John Klem, eleventh-grade student from Glen Ellyn, Illinois? “Some Sunday school classes are a bore. I’ve been in ones where we could care less about the subjects. Yak yak, and the whole period was irrelevant.”

CHRISTIANITY TODAY interviewed 11 men and women who are involved in some way in the ministry of the church through the Sunday school. They shared information and opinions on the failures and successes of Sunday school and curriculum, recent curriculum trends, and some challenges for Sunday school in the 1980s. Included among their comments are those of four teen-age Sunday school students.

Why are some people saying that Sunday school and Sunday school curriculum are irrelevant? Some respondents feel that the problem centers on the church’s failure to view Sunday school in the context of its total ministry. Others believe the problem is with curriculum. Still others say the problem is with the attitudes of those who attend Sunday school.

Norman Harper, chairman of the Christian education department and dean of the Graduate School of Education at Reformed Theological ...

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