sunday school messes

What I Wish I Had Learned In Sunday School

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A guest post by Dawn Klinge | edited by Nicki Schroeder

In the elementary years, my daughter and I had an evening ritual. After her little brother went to bed, we’d snuggle together under warm blankets and I’d read to her. I loved most of her books, but there was one neither of us cared for, Little Lord Fauntleroy. Have you heard of it?

It’s a classic morality tale written in 1885 about a little boy named Ceddie who goes to live with his grandfather, a grumpy English Earl. In the story, Ceddie wins the hearts of everyone he meets because he’s perfect, loving, kind, wise and virtuous. He could do no wrong.

A lot of people love this story, but it annoys me because no one is that perfect! As I read the story to my daughter, it felt strangely familiar. One day I realized that it sounded a lot like the stories I’d hear in Sunday school as a kid!

The Bible stories of my childhood were told with flannel boards while we sat criss-cross applesauce on carpet squares and ate vanilla wafers out of Dixie cups. My teachers were kind and well-intentioned, but looking back, there were a few lessons that caused more harm than good in my understanding of God and His Word.

I had two misconceptions about the Bible I studied in Sunday school as a kid:

  1. The Bible characters were heroes without flaws. They seemed perfect!
  2. The Bible was an instruction manual on how I should behave. And I failed daily.

I read the Bible on my own as a kid, only to discover that those heroes did a lot of bad stuff we really didn’t talk about at church. Was God okay with the bad things they did? If so, I wasn’t so sure about this God. These people were His heroes, weren’t they? I didn’t understand how they could be so messed up. If I thought about it too much, I became uncomfortable.

So I finally found a work-around to reading the Bible. I avoided the parts I didn’t understand and I favored the parts I did – like Proverbs and the red-letter parts of the Gospels. Sound familiar at all?

Have you ever found a work around to the things you don’t understand in God’s Word?

As a child, I trusted that every book in the Bible was God’s inspired Word and that every Scripture was there for a reason. But only because that’s what I was told by my teachers. I didn’t understand the books or their real significance. Since human authors wrote these books, how do we really know they were hearing from God? How do we know they really got it right?

I have tossed those questions around in my head for ages, but then I decided to dig in deep and uncover the answers for myself!

Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. – Deuteronomy 4:2

Here’s what I wish my Sunday school teachers would have taught me:

  1. There is only one Perfect Hero in the Bible and His story is woven throughout its entirety. His name is Jesus. (God uses many imperfect people to do heroic acts, for His glory, but they are still flawed humans.)
  2. The Bible is God’s grand story. The overarching theme of each book is about God, His great love for us and how to be in right relationship with Him.

As soon as I began reading the Bible with the understanding of the above statements, the Scriptures made so much more sense to me! They became alive. I was interested in the whole Bible. I didn’t need to trust that the Bible was God’s inspired Word just because someone else told me it was so. I dug in deep and discovered that Truth for myself!

I uncovered how God created his Bible through flawed people to show us how desperately we need Him as our Savior.

It encouraged me to dig deeper in my Bible study, to ensure I have knowledge that I can impart to my family and friends, as well as my blog readers. The more I dig in and understand the context of all the stories and the history of each book, the more intimately I come to a loving relationship with my Heavenly Father.

It’s a treasure to finally understand the purpose of the Bible. Share on X

When is the last time you dove in and dug deep on a story you loved from childhood?

Do you remember any of the unanswered questions that still haunt you from Sunday school? What about your kids? Are they struggling to understand?

If you have little (or big!) people in your life, take time to ask them what some of their big questions are and then dig in together as a family to uncover the beautiful truths that God has in store for you!

I pray your heart is encouraged today. Please share your thoughts below or join us on Facebook.

Dawn Klinge

Dawn is a freelance writer and Christian blogger who loves encouraging women to keep their focus on Jesus. She’s the author of Look to Jesus: How to Let Go of Worry and Trust God. She’s a wife and mom to two teens. A Seattle girl, she loves books and coffee. You can find her at

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