What can a 1936 Nazarene Sunday School Rally teach us? A Lot Actually 

A lady from our church, while in used book store, found a 1936 Central church flyer buried in a book (see above). It announced a Sunday School Rally focused on “The Causes of Crime Among Youth.” Not sure what crime youth were committing 87 years ago, but some of the subjects covered were: Why Boys are not in Sunday School; How one teacher saved 1000 boys; and last, but surely not least, “How Young People Commit the Unpardonable sin” (Yikes… I hope not). Not sure how many youth were grieving the Holy Spirit back in 1936. Apparently, it was a problem, and, from the week’s topics, it looked like it was a mostly a boys’ problem.

The flyer is a fun little blast from the past. Quaint, even. 

But it tells me a few things about Central Church in 1936.

  • They were concerned for young people (it was a “youth” rally)
  • They were evangelistic (the theme, The Causes of Crime Among Youth, was surely evangelistic)
  • They sought excellence. (Other lessons included: How to build a Sunday School; Four Essentials to Building a Sunday School and the Sunday School teacher who succeeds)
  • They set goals and made a plan to achieve it (the target: 100 souls)
  • Leaders were held accountable. On the side tear-off portion of the flyer, the information collected was: the prospective youth’s name, address, age, whether they already were attending Sunday School and at the bottom, (here’s my point) the name of the “solicitor.” They were tracking which lay leaders were actually inviting young people to the rally. Interesting.

The world has changed a lot since 1936. The methods used 87 years ago, will not work today. Still a 1936 youth rally can teach us a few things in 2023:

  • Without young people the church dies (maybe that’s why Central Church is in year 103 and going strong).
  • Sin is real and evangelism is important. (see the above parenthetical statement).
  • Wishful thinking doesn’t achieve results. (Needed are: strategy, goals, and those willing to execute the plan)
  • Church members must be responsible for the growth of the church (it’s not just the pastors’ job).

Most churches understand (even if they aren’t acting upon) the truths of the first three bullet points. What seems to be missing is the personal involvement by everyday members in the mission of the church. Too often the evangelism onus is on the pastor’s shoulders. Pastors alone (even with a large staff) cannot be the sole evangelizers in a church. Individual members must be given the tools (even if it’s a flyer with a tear off accountability section) to be witnesses in our lonely world. In a previous blog, I quoted Dr. Stan Reeder, who said, 95% of Nazarenes have not led one person to Christ. Pastors can’t evangelize alone. For growth to occur, more than 5% of believers must be inviting, sharing and leading folks to Jesus! 

The numbers are numbing. Church attendance across America is in deep decline. More people than ever are stating that they are atheists, agnostics or have no particular religion. Maybe those 1936 Central Church folks were on to something:

  1. Prioritize youth;
  2. Recognize sin;
  3. Believe Jesus changes everything;
  4. Make an “all-hands-on-deck” appeal for participation;
  5. Pray, plan and execute a strategy for making disciples

I hope in 87 years (2110) someone finds what we were doing In 2023 and says, “It’s kinda quaint, but they were being faithful to Jesus.”