The management of a Sunday school often falls under the responsibility of a superintendent who leads a team of volunteers engaged in the necessary and important work with children. This role is essentially deacon work for the benefit and blessing of the assembly. The superintendent is responsible to help set the curriculum and guide the direction of the Sunday school. As a spiritual leader, it is helpful to have strong interpersonal skills, in order to relate well with others. It entails patience with a challenging child, diplomacy with parents’ concerns, and respect for Sunday school teachers. It includes having the moral courage to correct where correction is needed, while at the same time maintaining peace and order. In addition, he and his team understand the importance of working in unity with the elders and the rest of the assembly.
One of the notable responsibilities of the superintendent is to ensure that the Sunday school teachers are using the Bible to make Christ known to the children under our care. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul says, “That from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2Tim 3:15). In this verse, we see the significance of sound Bible teaching among the young. It is the Word of God that is going to point a child to salvation, and the mission statement of any Sunday school should be to make them “wise unto salvation,” through the Holy Spirit. After all, the Lord Jesus Himself said, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15). For a soul to be saved at a young age not only means eternal security, but it often also means a life preserved from the world. Hence, teaching Sunday school involves molding lifelong disciples for Christ.
Most Sunday schools would have children of the believers who gather at the local assembly, but it should also include children from the neighborhood. For some of these children, we only have one precious hour a week to share the gospel. Sunday school has to be enjoyable for the children with good opening exercises to maintain their interest but, at the same time, we must always leave enough time for the teachers to present a clear gospel by the end of the hour. The superintendent has the duty to ensure things run smoothly, in an orderly and timely fashion. He must ensure that the teachers are following a curriculum where, over a period of time, they are taking a systematic approach in teaching lessons from Genesis to Revelation.
No Sunday school can function well without some sense of order and organization. This often involves regularly scheduled teachers’ meetings, led by the superintendent, where events can be planned and discussed as a team. Every event planned always has the ultimate goal of bringing the children and their parents into the hall or to an outdoor setting to hear the gospel. However, teachers’ meetings are not just about planning events and going over the curriculum; it should include a discussion about precious individual souls under our care. As well, it is good practice for the superintendent to begin his meetings by going around the circle asking the teachers for any specific prayer requests for individuals within their classrooms. We need to be engaged in prayer for these young ones, as very often there is no one praying for them. We also need to uphold each other in prayer as we seek wisdom to do the Father’s will for “my help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psa 121:2).
The Sunday school does not work as an entity on its own. It is an assembly outreach and teachers are still subject to the leadership of their local assembly. This does not mean that the elders must be present at the teachers’ meetings to rubber-stamp every decision made; however, one has to be cognizant that we represent the local assembly in all we do. When tackling matters of concern, the superintendent should communicate with the elders. This can be exercised directly or indirectly through another fellow worker regarding the Sunday school work. Paul summarizes it well: “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ … that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27).
Our vertical relationship with God is paramount, but so is our horizontal relationship with each other as we engage in spiritual work. “This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). In John 17, we have the longest recorded prayer of the Lord. In it, He prays for His disciples and future believers: “That they may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” Of all the things the Lord could have prayed for (our safety, our happiness, even our success), He prayed for our oneness; unity fosters belief in the active love of God. How will the people around us believe on the Lord Jesus Christ unless we love one another? In John 13:35, the Lord says, “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
The superintendent is responsible for the management of the Sunday school with all the organization that is required. However, an important role of the superintendent is also to help build relationships and connections with each other for the sake of the gospel because of our love for Him Who first loved us. A superintendent is often a shepherd, leading by example in visiting and in prayer. How could we function in a work for God without prayer? We need to pray for strength and wisdom. We need to pray for the children and families we come in contact with, and we need to pray for each other as we, collectively, seek to glorify His Name.