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Overview. Session 1 – History & Modern Practice From Exodus to the 21 st Century. Session 2 – Survey Returns Survey returns analysis (charts and graphs). Session 3 & 4 - Theology Discussion on original sin The nature of conversion Faith development.

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  • Session 1 – History & Modern Practice
  • From Exodus to the 21st Century
  • Session 2 – Survey Returns
  • Survey returns analysis (charts and graphs)
  • Session 3 & 4 - Theology
  • Discussion on original sin
  • The nature of conversion
  • Faith development
  • Session 5 - Sociology
  • Raikes’ England
  • State of the church ... Now and Then
  • Status of the child ... Now and Then
  • Prevailing cultures ... Now and Then
  • Session 6, 7 & 8 - Practice
  • Analysis of the four projects
  • Ethnography of one of the projects
  • Details of communication section

Conclusion of Philip Cliff’s PhD

Sunday School teachers cannot do

for parents what they must do themselves. The classroom is no substitute for the family.

(1986, p.322)



























  • On a scale of 1 to 10 rate your church’s involvement in the following areas:
        • Bah’ith – immediate family
        • Mish-paw-khaw’ – wider community
        • Child Evangelism – reaching the
        • unchurched
  • 2. When you look out of your window (physically or with eyes of faith) what do you see?



What did Raikes Create?

Raikes was about more than teaching people to read, his philanthropic endeavours were fuelled by a belief that, “Vice is preventable.”

“He eventually concluded, vice is preventable, begin with the child.”

Harris (1885, p.52)

What is also clear is Raikes did not set out to use this methodology of evangelism in his Sunday Schools. This is something Raikes stumbled into experientially, not through design.

“No one was exempt from catechism.”

(Harris, 1890, p.40)


Q. Did the world make itself?

A. No, if that clock had a maker, much more the whole world had a maker.

Q. Why must you believe in God?

A. Because if we do not believe in him, I should deny and forget my Maker, and be without God in the world, like those who spend their money in the public houses while their wives and children are without bread;

Q. How do you prove there is a God?

A. 1st by common sense; 2nd by our conscience; 3rd by tradition; 4th by the Sabbath; 5th by the Scriptures.

Q. How do you prove the truth of the gospel or that Jesus Christ was the son of God?

A. By the miracles that he wrought and the prophecies that were fulfilled.

Q. Have you any additional proof of the truth of Christianity?

A. It was spread and established in the earth by a few poor men, in opposition to the prejudices and passions of mankind. The first preachers of Christianity therefore must have been assisted by the power of God.


And why are we Interested?

In his letter to Mrs Harris of 1787 Raikes comments that the Sunday Schools had expanded so quickly that attendance now numbered 250,000.

By 1788, the Sunday School Society quoted 300,000 attendance in their annual report.

Currie, Gilbert and Horsley (1977, p.25)

record that in 1800 there were 1,230,000

adults in church, by 1830 there

were 1,958,000


Into the 20th Century

Figures from Currie, Gilbert and Horsley (1977)


Professional Teachers

Mr Nisbet, one of the founder members of the Sunday School Union would rise at 4am to study the necessary chapters which had been appointed as the lessons for the next Sunday, aiding his study with reference to Matthew Henry’s commentary.

Watson (1833, p.76)

Booth (1980, p.80) refers to the recruitment of Mrs Critchley who had been, “prevailed upon by Raikes to open a Sunday School.” Because, “Mrs Critchley, [was] previously a regular school mistress and known for her ability to cope with rough boys.”

The changes of the last thirty years or so have affected our school buildings considerably, and they have affected the scholars very largely; but I have grave doubts whether they have affected our teachers to the same extent.

West London Auxiliary Annual Report (1896, p.68)

Orchard (2007, p.11) comments, “By 1796 the Methodists were still paying teachers on the grounds that a purely voluntary system was not reliable.”


By the year 2000, Brierley (2000, p.109) noted six key issues regarding Sunday Schools:

1. Fewer people willing to teach on a regular basis

2. Adults attending less frequently and when they do they prefer to be part of the adult congregation.

3. Sunday School teachers are unsure how to communicate to today’s children.

4. Many adults do not know their Christian faith well, but still teach children.


5. Those who do teach give up after short periods.

6. The volunteers teaching on a rota system and seeing the children infrequently are common.


Young People as Leaders

On my first visit to the Slough & Windsor Project I noted:

Paul is not here today, but the morning will follow the same routine. Luke, the co-leader of the Slough and Windsor Project, calls the team together. He explains the theme of the day. Today they will be teaching the children that they should not follow others in doing wrong and if they stand for what is right, God will bless the them.

Luke has been working for this project since he was a teenager. He is now in his early 20s.

When I talked to Miriam, one of the leaders at the Fraserburgh Project , who came through the junior leader programme, she commented: I’ve been here since it started. I was 11 when it started [1996]. I was one of the children. When I went to academy [secondary school] I became a junior leader. And you are a junior leader until you are 16. A junior leaders responsibility is to sit besides the kids, they are training for becoming a leader, they are showing their potential. I got to do the actions at the front, I got to help with the games, I got to do some teaching and I came early and set up and got to stay at the end.


Recruit to a Vision

The Liverpool Project website stated, “This is all about sharing Jesus with some of the neediest and most vulnerable children in our city.”

The Leeds Project website stated, “Our vision is to reach children aged 4 to 11 with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Bernie the leader of the Leeds Project stated:

“When I look for children’s workers, I look for people who have a heart for the lost, a heart for the broken people and people who love God and that’s all I need!”



The largest Children’s Outreach Projects place a high emphasis on training, 92% of the projects reaching more than 100 children had been to at least one training event in the last twelve months.



I encourage them [she said] by little bribes of a penny a Section to get by heart certain fundamental parts of Scripture. Those who attend four Sundays without intermission receive a penny. Once in every six to eight weeks I give a little gingerbread. Once a year I distribute little books according to merit. Those who deserve most get a Bible. Second-rate merit gets a prayer book—the rest, cheap repository tracts

(Young and Ashton, 1956, p.240).

“These little ragamuffins have taken it into their heads to frequent the early morning prayers which are held at the Cathedral at seven o’ clock. I believe there were nearly fifty there this morning. They assemble at the house of one of their mistresses and walk before her to church, two and two…the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge sometimes make me a present of a parcel of Bibles which I distribute as rewards for the deserving.”

Raikes’ letter to Townley (1783)

Although the Bishop of Rochester was clearly not an

advocate of this particular practice and commented in the Gentleman’s magazine (1800, 1076-8): “The poor are even bribed by pecuniary gifts to send their children to these schools”


The Social Dimension?

Christianity at its best has always been suspicious of a purely spiritual view of the Church which seeks to keep it clinically antiseptic and uninvolved with the institutional forms and packaging of the age and environment in which it seeks to witness and minister.

Marshall (1984, p.165)

It is possible to institute social reform without a religious element, but it is impossible to provide any form of religious education devoid of a social element.



They are not surrounded by inspiration everyday, so what motivates a kid to work if they see no jobs at the end of it. We teach them life skills, we teach them that they have choices.

Leeds Project

Conference we need to stop looking at our inner cities as if they are a problem, we need to start looking at the potential in our inner cities. The kids that I know and the families that I know who have been broken by crime, who have been broken by drugs are just waiting for an opportunity, for someone to say, come on let me give you a hand up. To say, yes you can go to university, yes you can make something of your life, we need to believe in the kids of our inner cities.

(Dave Sharples, Liverpool Kidz Klub, Conservative Party Conference in 2007)

The potential of reaching the child, who is secure in who they are in God, and have their own faith, and teaching them how to live, and how to die, and how to relate and how to act, how to react, how to cope with life’s storms. If we can put that into children, then we have done the job well.

Wes Richards



by the middle of the 19th century the basic form of the Sunday School lesson was fairly regimented and would include hymn singing, prayer, a short biblical message, reading, writing and learning of the catechism.

Cliff (1986, p.96)

Hannah and Martha More (1789) attempted to make school sessions entertaining and varied… Programmes had to be planned and suited to the level of the students; there needed to be variety; and classes had to be as entertaining as possible (she advised using singing when energy and attention was waning).

Young and Ashton (1956, p.239)

Now I lay me down

to sleep, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep;

If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord,

my soul to take.


I’m gonna jump up and down, gonna spin right around, gonna praise your Name forever,

gonna shout out loud,

gonna deafen the crowd gonna send my praise to heaven

I’ll follow Jesus ‘til the day I drop.

I can do all things through, Christ who strengthens me When you’ve got such a lot,

When you’ve got not a lot. What? Be happy!

Fight the good fight with all thy might, Christ is thy strength and Christ thy right; lay hold on life, and it shall be thy joy and crown eternally.


He made dogs that point, Pigs that oink, he made dolphin smiles, crocodiles, He made a zillion things, flies and wings. He even gave us tongues so good for licking. And it’s lovely jubbly, all of God’s creation.

Lovely jubbly, all of God’s creation, what a wonderful God we have.

Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the king of creation…..


Codrington’s (2000) research concluded that younger children viewed worship services primarily in terms of the physical experience, what they did , she highlights how limited the Children’s Club was in this regard, and how helpful the sacramental practices of lighting candles, using clay to represent an emotion or experience and the use of paint or crayons for expression.

The children revealed that they would like to be more involved in the service and not just sing.




  • What constitutes social currency where you live? What is it that would empower the children you work with?










The Community Link

Raikes (Letter to Townley 1783) writes:

I went around to remonstrate with them on the melancholy consequences that must ensue from so fatal a neglect of their children’s morals. They alleged their poverty rendered them incapable of cleaning and clothing their children fit to appear either at school or at church. But this objection was obviated by a remark that if they were clad in garb fit to appear in the streets I should not think it improper for a school calculated to admit the poorest and most neglected. All that I required were clean faces, clean hands, and hair combed. In other respects they were to come as their circumstances would admit.

Bill Wilson (2000, p.30) writes:

These personal visits place people in someone else’s world, and provide a person-to-person relationship. Personal visits prevent alienation, prepare young personalities for spiritual challenge, and promote productivity.


The Church Link

Growing churches do have an effective children’s ministry…because they deliberately see the children’s ministry which they exercise as being very much part of the mainstream activity of the church. This integration mechanism of the children’s ministry with the totality of the church activity is as important as the quality of the actual ministry itself if growth is to take place. (Peter Brierley, 2005)



“Upon the Sunday afternoon, the mistress takes the scholars to church, a place into which neither they nor their ancestors had ever entered.”

Raikes’ letter to Townley (1783)


The Power of the Design

Sunday School





Numbers Attending Church

Brierley, 2000, p.100

2006, p.121

It is not about forcing children into adult modes of learning or into modes that demand cognitive processes beyond their abilities, instead the task is to translate the truths of Christian faith into terms that can be both understood and experienced by boys and girls . (Richards, 1993, p.123)

“It is vital to understand their language, beliefs and ideology in order to penetrate the different world in which children live.”

The Lausanne statement on Child Evangelism (1980)



5. The Ingredients

1. The Leader

2. Geography

– Fixed Boundary

3. Sustainability

– Long Term

4. Local Church

– Integrated

Professional Teachers

Hymn Singing and Prayer

Rewards, Prizes and Incentives

Connection with Community

Meeting a Social Need (empowering)

Connection with (and part of) Church

Communicating a Christian Message