What was the original purpose of Sunday school? Religious instruction, right? No, not at all.

The initial goal of Sunday school was to provide basic academic instruction to poor children. Sunday school started as a philanthropic effort, not as religious instruction. Teaching underprivileged kids to read was a key means to empower them so they could avoid mistreatment by society and abuse by employers.

Later on, when public schools effectively took over the role of Sunday school, rather than shutting down their programs, churches morphed Sunday school into religious education classes. Though the purpose of Sunday school ended, their existence continued on, becoming an expected part of most church programming.

In the same original spirit of Sunday school, I heard of a church that offers classes in English as a second Language (ESL). Their intent is philanthropic, to help people and better society. Isn’t that what churches should be doing, helping people and making our world a better place?

Could ESL classes be the new Sunday school?

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