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Do we Need a Distinctive Baptist Sunday School Work?
Rev. Hight C. Moore, D.D.
in Convention Teacher

      Beyond question the Sunday school is today the richest and ripest field for Christian endeavor; it affords for the churches a wide-open door of splendid opportunity; and its advancement in every way possible is a cardinal need at the present time.

     These things being true, it is well for us to consider our denominational place and possibility in the Sunday school world. In particular the question arises, Is there need for distinctive Baptist Sunday school work? And if there is, what is our definite task as a denomination, and how can we best perform it?

     1. But, first of all, what is Baptist Sunday school work? As we would expect under Baptist polity, the local school, independent, yet interdependent and cooperative, is the unit; and upon this as a base our Baptist Sunday

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school work is distinctly denominational in seven aspects:

      (1) It is Baptist in organization - that is, it centers in the Baptist idea, is established under Baptist auspices, bears the Baptist name, and is recognized as standing for Baptist principles.       (2) It is Baptist in control; it is manned by Baptists; it is authorized by one or more Baptist churches, and it is correlated in fellowship and service with other schools in general Baptist organizations.

      (3) It is Baptist in teaching; it is sound in its interpretation of Scripture; it is supplied with and supplies Baptist literature which is prepared, circulated, studied and taught without apology or compromise.

      (4) It is Baptist in training. Not only must the student body be trained, but, in order to that, the officers and teachers as well; and if they are not trained under denominational auspices - taking our own well-prepared teacher training courses in institutes and training schools or individually - our schools and our churches are likely to fall into the hands of doctrinal molly-coddles.

      (5) It is Baptist in affiliation - that is to say, Baptist Sunday school work means the active and fruitful cooperation of Baptist Sunday schools with each other, as, for example, in

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city training schools, associational institutes, and state assemblies.

      (6) It is Baptist in its extension work. It stands for the planting, not of "union" schools, but of Baptist schools; for the special training of workers that they may do their best work within denominational lines; and, in general, for the upbuilding of the kingdom as committed to the Baptists.

      (7) It is Baptist in output. Its pupils make good Baptists; its gifts go to the support of Baptist enterprises; the churches which grow out of it are Baptist churches; and streams of blessing flow out of it along denominational channels to better the world.

      Such, in part at least, is distinctive Baptist Sunday school work; and while, as already stated, it centers in the local school, yet it radiates outward and upward, necessitating a distinctive work in the district association (as, institutes and conventions), in the state convention (as, assemblies and the field work of a Sunday school secretary), and in the Southern Baptist Convention (as, the publication of Sunday school literature, the sending out of experts, and the training of workers).

      2. For such work is there a place in the denomination, in the Sunday school world, and in the kingdom of our Lord? Five considerations answer with an emphatic affirmative:

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      (1) As to organization, the planting of Sunday schools: Baptists alone have the inclination and the ability to organize or promote the organization of Baptist Sunday schools.

      (2) As to indoctrination, the teaching of God's word: Baptists themselves must teach and encourage the teaching of Baptist principles, which are Bible principles, if it is done.

      (3) As to development, the process of growth and efficiency: The individual school and the general Sunday school condition, along lines missionary and cultural, can best be advanced by Baptists for Baptists.

      (4) As to cooperation, the unifying of our forces: For the advancement of denominational life and the cause of Christ as committed to Baptists our Sunday schools must cooperate and concentrate; otherwise, golden opportunity passes unheeded and precious energy runs to waste.

      (5) As to support, the perpetuation of our work: The establishment and betterment of Baptist Sunday schools is to be sustained, if sustained at all, by Baptist people.

      There is, therefore, a special sphere for Baptist Sunday school work, not only in the local school, which is basal, but for general organized work within denominational lines. Conferences on conditions, consolidation of forces, and concentration in effort justify the

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general work whereby the individual school is brought in touch with other schools, its workers exchanging ideas and experience with other workers, and its forces fusing with kindred forces for the upbuilding of the weak, the relief of the destitute, the service of the strong, and the benefit of all.

      3. There being a place for Baptist Sunday school work - a place not occupied now or ever can be by others - surely there is need and demand for such work.

      We hold that Baptist Sunday school work is needed for the sake of the truth. The Bible has been put in our hands, that we may practice it ourselves and teach it to others; we have been given, as we believe, the clearest and fullest apprehension of it to be found in all the world; and in the Sunday school we have a mighty agency for transmitting the truth to those about us today, and to those who will succeed us tomorrow.

      Baptist Sunday school work is also needed for the sake of the denomination. To weaken it would mean degeneration; to abandon it would mean death; but to magnify it, to direct it, to make it most effective means now, as it ever has and ever will, rapid denominational progress and efficiency.

      Again, Baptist Sunday school work is needed for the sake of the Sunday school itself. If

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what we believe is truth, and what we do is in accordance with truth, then a Sunday school is bettered by being Baptist, and the Sunday school world is bettered by the Baptist Sunday schools in it. And what have not Baptists done, individually and collectively, for the advancement of the Sunday school? Without them, many of the most shining pages of its record would never have been written. And their Sunday school mission is barely upon the threshold of its possibility.

      Moreover, Baptist Sunday school work is needed for the sake of Christendom. Other denominations, instead of being antagonized, embittered, and undermined thereby, have been, and will be, awakened, stimulated and capacitated for greater work. The more efficient Baptists are in their Sunday school work, the better, not for them alone, but for the cause of Christ throughout the earth.

      And, lastly, Baptist Sunday school work is needed for the sake of the world. It is a tremendous factor and force for disseminating the word of God, for calling out and qualifying workers, for building up churches, for making good citizens, for aiding every worthy enterprise - in short, for making the world better and preparing it for the approach of its King.

      4. In view of these things, a word may be added as to our denominational duty.

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      As surely as Jehovah led Israel into Canaan, so surely he is leading the Baptists in their Sunday school work into "a land flowing with milk and honey" - a denominational heritage rich in opportunity and radiant in possibility. The present hour calls upon us to stand by our own work as never before, to make it of most effect, to push it with all diligence and wisdom. But in doing our work, there is no room for bigotry or bickering. Clarify it; in love give it first place; and in loyalty, put all possible energy into it. Remember that it is our own work; that we are committed to it even as it has been committed to us; that it is worth our while, and is the best investment we can make of our time and energy and means and influence; and that there is a place, a demand, and a need within our own lines for every one of our pastors, superintendents, and other workers who can find here perhaps their largest sphere of usefulness. So let us stand by our own work; stand by it every day in the year; stand by it with every strand of our strength; stand by it in the light of truth and duty; stand by it as God directs and for his glory.

      And let there be much thought upon and discussion of this basal, strategic, highly-important work; discussion with a view to progress, but never retrenchment. Let changes be made, but always for the better. Let our

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Sunday school work be clearly defined, fully appreciated, freely utilized, aggressively pushed, liberally supported. It is due the Bible we teach and the denomination we love; it is due the schools already at work, the dark corners of the earth, and the generations to come who will enter into the heritage of our labors.

      "Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward!"
     Raleigh, N. C.


[From The Baptist Message, SSB/SBC, 1911, pp. 96-103. This book was provided by Steve Lecrone, Burton, OH. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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