Are Sunday morning Bible classes an unauthorized innovation?




I'm studying with a friend who objects to Sunday schools. I don't know how to approach her objection. She says that where she worships the service is very simple.  They don't have choirs, musical instruments, or Sunday Schools or classes.  She said they try not to incorporate anything in worship that they don't see taught in the New Testament.  They don't have Sunday School for the same reason they don't have musical instruments.  She wrote that parents are to teach their children at home and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  She wrote that in many churches people teach whom she feels aren't qualified and that some even teach from tracts.  She thought class arrangements were no different from a fellowship hall. It seems to her that providing a place for classes would be the same as providing a place to come together after worshiping to eat.  A lot is probably spent on class material ... crayons, pictures to color, stickers, attendance charts, etc. 

I would start at Ephesians 4:11-12, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." There is a list of duties given to some people by Christ. Not all Christians have these duties. They are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Each set of duty is unique, though their duties often overlap. Each duty was for the improvement of the church. Exactly then, who is a teacher? How does a congregation have teachers without classes?

Teachers are mentioned in I Corinthians 12:28-29 as a gift God has given to the church. "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?" Again the point is that everyone is not a teacher. Every Christian ought to be able to teach, but every Christian is not a teacher. The reason is pointed out in James 3:1, "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment."

Galatians 6:6 indicates there are students as well as teachers. "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches."

My question for the no Bible class groups is "Where are your teachers?" If they claim to have teachers (independent of evangelists and pastors), then the question is "How are they carrying out their duty to teach those in the congregation?" While Sunday morning Bible classes are a popular choice, it is not the only one available that will fulfill the command to have designated teachers. However, I usually find that the no Bible class groups have no teaching going on at all except the sermons presented on Sunday morning by the preacher. It is the lack of teachers that ought to be troubling and not when or where the classes are taking place.

Some of her arguments are distractions: lack of qualified teachers and the cost of teaching. Do we tell Christ that we decided not to have a preacher because we couldn't find anyone qualified and besides preachers cost too much? No, once it is agreed that we are required to have teachers, then we will get busy insuring that there are qualified teachers and that they are supplied to do their duty. "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (II Timothy 2:2).

The comparisons to fellowship halls and instrumental music will only stand if it is shown that teaching is not authorized in the Scriptures. Since teachers are authorized, then the comparison doesn't stand.

See also:

Questions About Bible Classes

March 16, 2005