We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
- 1 John 1:3-7
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
- Ephesians 4:15-16
When we recite the Apostle’s Creed, there is the line about us believing in the “communion of the Saints.” Since all believers are “Saints”, going to worship service at church and Sunday school should be part of every Christian’s Sunday. The Scriptures are given as a support of that joining together with other believers.
Alas, my wife is often exhausted after dialysis and there is no telling whether she will be able to attend either Sunday school or the worship service. I could say that she is “drained” instead of exhausted, but that is too close to the truth. If she must choose, it is Sunday school, only because I am a teacher and I cannot miss.
I have written before that the worship service is predominantly in one direction. The preacher preaches a sermon, and everyone sits and listens. In Sunday school, the teacher makes a statement and fifteen people, if you have that many that attend, are voicing their differing opinion. While the preacher may get into heated discussions as he/she shakes hands after the service, the Sunday school teacher is in the midst of arguments for the entire hour, or at least they could be.
But I wonder if we “commune” much during the worship service. Our new pastor has no problem ‘disrupting’ the service by having a passing of the peace about the first third of the worship service. In the past, if it was done at all, it was right after the announcements, not to “break the mood.” Our new pastor jumps right into worship, then has the passing of the peace where everyone gets up and talks to those near them. Then after the sermon, he goes through the announcements. I like the new format. While there is something to be said for getting into a mode of worship and not disrupting it, what is the passing of the peace? It should never be a disruption or something that is NOT worship. Those in the pews are the worshippers, and they should not be asleep during the sermon. Get up and move around. Worship by voicing God’s love for the others in attendance, passing along to someone else the peace that is in Jesus Christ.
If you do not actively partake in the worship service by doing something, then Sunday school is the much better example of a communion of the Saints in that ideas are shared. It is not one person talking to many without feedback. It is several people getting even more people to think about the topic at hand.
The bottom line is that both are necessary. This Sunday, as of this writing, my wife was ill, and I left her to tend to her ills while I taught Sunday school and then rushed home. But we would both rather attend both the Sunday school and the worship service for we get different things out of each of them.
I heard a Messianic Jew, or completed Jew, speak about how Christians focus on the blessings of the New Testament and Jews focus on the blessings of the Old Testament. They all miss out, in that the blessings of the entire Bible provides the sum total of what God has to offer.
The same thing can be said about Sunday school and the Worship service. Let’s say that you have 800 members in your church. You have two worship services that total 200-300 attending each Sunday. But you have only about 30 church members attending Sunday school with about a third of those members teaching (considering the children are not yet members of the church).
What blessings is that church of 800 members missing when less than five percent are at Sunday school? It is sad enough that between 25-30% are the only ones to attend worship. But do not worry. Holy week is approaching, and the ushers will need giant shoehorns to squeeze 1000 into the sanctuary Easter morning, even more come Christmas, but then there are multiple services then.
And please, if these numbers are roughly what your church exhibits, I just made the numbers up, but they may be sadly typical of many churches.
We would have a very pathetic God if He only paid attention to us two times each year for an hour each time.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.