“Sunday School Is Everybody’s Business,” Ensign, Dec. 1974, 8
Sunday School is everybody’s business! It is also everybody’s responsibility. Everyone needs it, and all should have it.
It creates stronger homes and better citizens. It develops faith where previously there was no faith, and it strengthens the testimonies of those who already believe.
It is an inspired organization, not only in its inception, but also in its present operation. It can be a mighty saving power in the lives of all who attend.
But there are many who do not realize this. Many have not yet awakened to the fact that a knowledge of God and obedience to him are required for their salvation.
There are those, even among our own members, who seem to think that their Church membership alone will qualify them for the realms above and that they can merely drift into the kingdom of heaven. Many there are who never yet have learned enough about the gospel to enlist their interest, not to mention their becoming excited about it.
These people must be aroused to the importance of the message we bear. But they can only be thus awakened by learning about the gospel, by studying its message, and by catching a glimpse of their true relationship to God.
Sunday School can provide all this.
The Savior taught that salvation is the greatest gift of God. But it cannot be obtained without labor, and no one can be saved in ignorance.
We need to know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. We must learn of him, and take his yoke upon us. We must gain knowledge of him and his work from the best books, by study, and also by faith.
There are many of us who are asleep spiritually. Too many of us are like some who live in the shadows of the temple but never go there. A great light has broken out in their midst and they see it not. Why?
Because they have not yet developed the perception that study of the gospel alone will give. A great message has been delivered to them, and they hear it not. Why?
Because their ears have not been tuned to the whisperings of the Spirit. They are deaf to the most important message in the world. Can they be awakened?
They can. And by whom?
By every active member of this Church. And how?
By making the gospel a reality in their lives. Then how does the Sunday School fit into this?
By better qualifying every worker in the Church in all organizations, and by providing the spiritual nourishment that will bring about a glorious readjustment in the lives of those not now receiving it.
And how is Sunday School to achieve all this? Let us talk first about the family.
Salvation should come to all on a family basis. What can the Sunday School do to help accomplish this? The Sunday School is a family organization. Its courses are planned for the entire family, from those of preschool age, to the youth, to the young adults, and to the older ones of all subsequent ages.
Brothers and sisters, understand this: Sunday School is a family organization which brings systematic study of the gospel to every father, mother, and child. And doesn’t every family need it?
In the epistle of James we read: “… Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:18.)
James might very well have said also, “Show me thy conversion without a study of the gospel, and I will show thee my conversion with a study of the gospel.”
Many families do not know how to study. Modern electronic entertainment has largely banished the enjoyment of books from most households. But Sunday School can bring gospel study back again. If families will study the gospel systematically in Sunday School classes, and also use those well-prepared texts at home, in home evening, and otherwise, a whole new light will come into the family.
The gospel will have added meaning in their lives. Prayer will become significant to them.
Harmony will be reestablished in place of quarreling and bickering.
And a desire to serve God will arise in their hearts such as they never have had before. It will be conversion, and without conversion there is no salvation.
A recent survey in the Church indicates that many parents do not teach their children the gospel because they say they do not know how to teach. But they can learn to teach. Where? In Sunday School. Our Sunday School teachers are trained in good teaching methods by a development program now used throughout the Church. They teach well, as instructed in that program.
Parents may observe their teaching methods as they themselves attend Sunday School classes and then go to their homes and use the same methods with their children. All parents may thus learn to teach in their families.
How else may the Sunday School help the family? Through the home teachers. The home teachers themselves may become more spiritual and better informed by going to Sunday School, but further than that, they may bring the families in their districts to Sunday School and thus develop greater spirituality among them.
Home teachers should use the Sunday School as an instrument for building greater spirituality among the families they visit. So, Sunday School is for home teachers also.
How else is Sunday School a help to families? It assists them in obeying one of the great laws of the Lord: the observance of a sacred Sabbath. By attending our Sunday meetings we better observe the Sabbath and thereby better serve the Lord.
The Lord commands us to come to the house of prayer on Sunday and learn of him, and offer up our oblations to him. To paraphrase the Epistle of James once more, that scripture might also have said, “Show me thy Sabbath observance without going to your Sunday meetings, and I will show you my Sabbath observance by attending Sunday School and Sacrament meetings.”
How else does Sunday School serve the Church? It helps the stake and fulltime missionaries by providing the Gospel Essentials class, where basic gospel teachings are given to all investigators and converts to the Church.
Therefore, it is a strong factor in the conversion of our new members.
Sunday School, you see, then, is vital in missionary work. Again we may say that Sunday School is everybody’s business.
And how—whom else does it serve? It helps every elder and prospective elder and the families of those brethren by teaching basic gospel principles to them and thus building faith in their hearts.
Sunday School can become an instrument for all elders quorum presidencies in reactivating their people who now are inactive. And since elders are home teachers in the homes of these people, they may do as we have already suggested, and help the program of the Sunday School completely cooperate with the home teaching effort.
Elders, how can you successfully reactivate inactive families without Sunday School? It is one of your most valuable tools—use it to the maximum.
And what about the high priests? Brethren, do as the elders and seventies do—use Sunday Schools as a revitalizing agent for spirituality among your members and among the widows of your departed members and among the aged and infirm. Strengthen the weak, cheer up the sorrowful, add to the knowledge and talents of those who are already strong by the spiritual power of Sunday School.
Nothing succeeds like united effort. Therefore, all active members of the Church should join hands and work unitedly toward full attendance of all Church members at Sunday School.
Since all organizations of the Church are working with the same families, seeking to bring salvation to those families, would it not be entirely appropriate for all organizations to urge their members to go to Sunday School?
Should the Relief Society urge its members to go to Sunday School? By all means! Women who take their families to Sunday School will be better Relief Society workers.
Can the Aaronic Priesthood, Young Women, and Primary appropriately do likewise? Definitely yes! Young people who go to Sunday School are better Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women members and better Primary members.
So Sunday School is everybody’s business!
The home and the Church are a divine combination. Nothing else is as effective in the development of good citizenry. Nothing else can take their place in the salvation of our souls.
Is there a greater stabilizing force for young and old alike?
No matter how brilliant a person may be, no matter how well he may be trained in a secular sense, he must receive the inspiration of sincere religious conviction if he is to be protected from the ideology of materialism which is so rampant in the world and which leads to moral irresponsibility, lawlessness, and personal destruction.
You will be interested to hear a report from one of the large Protestant denominations which says that 85 percent of the conversions to that particular faith result from Sunday School instruction. The report concluded: “The greatest technique of evangelism in the 20th century is not revivalism; but Sunday School.” (Time, December 7, 1962, p. 52.)
The Millennial Star records the counsel of the Church to its people:
“Let the Elders gather the people together, old and young, every Sabbath Day … and teach them the first principles of the Gospel of Christ … and practice what they preach on the Sabbath and six other days in each week, even unto the end, and they will find it a very profitable school, and receive a glorious reward for their labours.” (Millennial Star, August 1840, vol. 1, pp. 95–96.)
The Lord has told us plainly that only those who are valiant in the testimony of Jesus will inherit celestial glory. It is the valiant who keep their testimonies aglow, and this they do by constant activity in the Church and continuous study of the gospel.
This points up our great responsibility to those who are not valiant now, and who are not keeping their testimonies bright, and who therefore jeopardize their souls’ salvation.
We are as saviors on Mount Zion. We must seek after the lost sheep. We must teach them and instruct them and rekindle in their hearts a thirst for the knowledge of God. We must consider ourselves as missionaries to convert them.
Brethren and sisters, we charge you with the importance of attending and participating in the Sunday School of your ward. In a very real sense you are shepherds of the flock, and Sunday worship is one of your great responsibilities.
The Lord says the thing that will be of most worth to us will be to bring souls unto him. This is our divinely given assignment.
Is there a better way to do this than through family togetherness, where the family is truly a family in the home, where the gospel is lived in the home, and where the entire family will come together to the ward on Sunday and there worship the Lord their God? Sunday worship is everybody’s responsibility.
There is no better way to stimulate the incentive to study the gospel than in well-organized classes in Sunday School, where a regular curriculum is followed and where continuity of subjects gives young and old a proper concept of the gospel.
The glory of God is intelligence. To attend Sunday School regularly with our entire family is an intelligent effort on our part.
Sunday School is everybody’s business.
Jones’ Family Sunday School Attendance
Harold Jones—his scoutmaster picked him up for Sunday School. “I want you to be there with the rest of us.”
Lorraine Jones—her Sunday School class president said, “Gee, I wish you’d been there for the lesson on prayer. Can’t you come tomorrow?”
Margaret Jones—the visiting teachers commented, “We know how much you enjoy Relief Society. You’d love the Sunday School lessons, too.”
Wilson Jones—the home teachers said, “Your family needs you with them at Church as much as they need you at home.”