As we think about these three commitments that need to be reaffirmed, one of the reasons that we are taking such an approach is that we need to address some misconceptions that have crept into the church in many respects. And there are a number of these misconceptions that are well in place and that are troubling the church today. And we could just briefly speak of a few of them. And then having addressed or mentioned some of these misconceptions will then turn our attention to trying to get a more clearly biblical conception of the faith. One of the misconceptions of the church in terms of teaching ministry today is that C.E. or Christian education equals Sunday school. If we spoke to a number of key leaders in churches, pastors and churches and asked them to describe for us a Christian education ministry, often that discussion would begin and end with Sunday school. And there's something very troubling about that. Of course, the number of things that are troubling about that on a very practical level, if that's the teaching ministry in the church, if it equal Sunday school, then we could ask the pastors will tell us how many of your people are involved in Sunday school? And often the number of those who are involved in Sunday school programs is woefully low, a very small percentage of people in many cases. So that all by itself presents a problem. There's also historical problem. Sunday School itself is a is a very, very much a recent phenomenon. It was really only developed in a firm and established way in the 18th century and only became a real fundamental part of the Christian movement in the Western world in the 19th and 20th centuries.
So of course, we would wonder what did the church do for the 18th century prior to Sunday school? And, when the Sunday school movement began, it wasn't even explicitly a Christian education ministry as we think of Christian education today. It was much more properly a an outreach, compassion, and evangelistic ministry. So the Sunday school movement can be helpful and has done wonderful things in the church's ministry today. But the Sunday school movement cannot be equated with Christian education. And if a church has only Sunday school as its teaching ministry, we're looking at one hour, one and a half hours a week where people would be taught the faith, and that's just not going to cut it. I think we could all recognize that. So Sunday School and Christian Education equating the two I think is a serious misconception that troubles the church today. Another misconception is that Christian education is only for children. Probably this misconception grows out of the first one. If we see Sunday School as Christian education and Christian education as only Sunday school on most churches, Sunday school is dominated by children. And you find a lot of folks who have grown up in the faith and basically have come to the conviction that they've done their Christian education thing. They did that as kids and they no longer need to be taught or instructed in the faith. Of course, that's tragically wrong and very troubling kind of attitude in the church. May God forbid, that any of us ever, ever stop learning. There's way more to know than we could possibly ever know in this lifetime. And we must always be diligent to learn. As we saw from the Great Commission, Jesus commanded the church that they are to teach believers to obey everything whatsoever Jesus Christ has commanded.
Certainly just understanding all that Jesus taught would be a lifetime of education. But learning obedience to all that Jesus taught is even more difficult and more challenging. And so we need to urge people in the church to always view themselves as disciples in the making, as learning, as growing, and challenging adults, especially to continue being faithful learners of the faith. On the opposite side of that misconception might be the misconception at work in some churches that children's ministry is not as important as adult ministry, whether or not it's identified as Christian education. Sometimes adult ministry takes precedence in churches over children's ministry, and people have a Christian education focus on children in their church. But the church may not really see what's going on with children as truly Christian education or teaching ministry. Sometimes it's a little bit more little more than babysitting or fun and games for the kids. And there are a lot of adults who feel that children are incapable of profound spiritual growth and profound spiritual commitment. And sometimes you find this focus in the church or the lack of emphasis in the children Children's Ministry of the church. By looking at budgets, looking at staffing, looking at other resources, looking at the space that's available. And unfortunately, in many cases, children are given the leftovers of budget and staffing and facilities. One of the clearest examples of this is examining who it is that's charged with teaching children in the church. And in many cases, it's whoever wants to teach the children in the church. If we're thinking about teaching adults in the church, we would typically expect someone who is highly qualified, who's been educated, who's been called, who's been gifted, who's been equipped for that ministry.
But in too many churches, whoever wants to teach children is accepted. Has a child as a children's teacher. You've probably heard the desperate announcements from the pulpit during the announcement times at church about the desperate, urgent need for Sunday school teachers for grade three. And the message that's communicated is any warm body that's willing will get the job. And this is tragic. Of course, Jesus warned about how serious the ministry with children would be warned that if anybody led children astray, it would be better for that person not to be not to have been born. And Jesus also made it clear that children's ministry should be very significant and very thorough and very much highly regarded as a critical ministry equal with adults. On one occasion, some mothers brought their babies to be blessed by Jesus, and the disciples rebuked the mothers, saying, you know, don't bother the rabbi with these things, don't bother the master. While the disciples attitude was that Jesus couldn't be bothered with children because he was too busy doing real ministry, that was probably their attitude. But when Jesus found what the 12 had done, he rebuked the disciples. He was angry with them and rebuked them and said, Let the children come to me, for they are, are for these are what the kingdom is made of. On another occasion, when the disciples who are supposedly mature adult learners were involved in the dispute over who would be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, Jesus took the young child and had him stand in the midst of them and said, You need to study this child and learn from the child. And of course, throughout the Bible there are numerous examples of young people who did great feats of courage and faith and had profound faith on display.
We could think of Joseph in the Old Testament or Daniel in the Old Testament, or David in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. We can think about someone like Mary. Many New Testament scholars think Mary, the mother of Jesus, was probably 13 or 14 years old when Jesus or when Gabriel appeared to her. And so young people are capable of great acts of faith, and the church should honor them as Jesus in the Scriptures, honor them. There are numerous other kind of misconceptions that trouble the church today when it comes to educational ministry. But at this point it would be good for us to shift our gears and begin to try to see what a biblical understanding of a true conception of the teaching ministry would be.