At its roots, the Sunday School movement was a response to the need for education for children who worked in factories all week and found themselves aimless, uneducated and without purpose on Sundays. Urban families embraced the initiative and benefactors helped it flourish.
When public education took hold, the movement focused its efforts on teaching the Story of God, and remained one of the most significant means of neighborhood connection and outreach. In the United States, key publishing houses arose to meet the need for resources. The movement flourished until the 1970s, and then began to wane.
Does the teaching ministry of the Church still hold potential for effectively sharing the Story of God and providing a vehicle for transformation, reconciliation, the joy of salvation and common purpose in the hearts of our cities?
Mary Flin, Director and Dean for The Urban Ministry Institute of Topeka (TUMI) believes that it does.
“In this time of great movement of the Holy Spirit in our cities, we see Sunday School teachers, youth workers and other teaching leaders as the front lines of ministry, relationships and reconciliation,” Flin said. “We are committed to encouraging, inspiring and equipping a strengthened movement of Christian education in the urban Church.”
TUMI-Topeka has been teaching urban leaders in Topeka for several years, offering seminary-level classes for just about the price of books, serving the urban church by training theologically sound, Christ-centered, Bible-based, contextually-skilled leaders. Now, they are offering the first Urban Christian Education Summit, to be held on August 10th, from 8 am to 4 pm in the Emerald Ballroom at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.
All current or aspiring teaching leaders and pastors are invited to attend, including Sunday School teachers, youth workers, VBS leaders, etc.
Dr. Don Davis will be the primary speaker. Dr. Davis is a World Impact Vice President and is the Executive Director of The Urban Ministry Institute, of which TUMI Topeka is a satellite.
Davis has been in urban ministry and missions with World Impact since 1975. He has spent his entire ministry career seeking to raise up a new generation of qualified spiritual leaders, pastors, and church planters who can build up the Church in the most vulnerable and unreached urban communities in America and across the world. TUMI currently supports 284 TUMI satellites in 16 countries (68 of which are in prisons).
Davis is a graduate of Wheaton College (B.A., Biblical Studies) and Wheaton Graduate School (M. A., Systematic Theology) with summa cum laude honors in both degrees. He earned his Ph.D. in Religion (2000, Theology and Ethics) from the University of Iowa School of Religion. A recipient of numerous awards, he has also authored a number of books, curricula, and study materials, all to equip, empower, and release biblical leaders to serve the Church among the poor and oppressed, and display Kingdom transformation where they live and minister.
The theme for the Summit is “Getting Our Story Straight and Telling It Well.”
“The teaching ministry of the church has been my vocational love since I was ten years old,” Flin said. “This Summit is a highlight of my life…the opportunity to encourage teaching leaders in what I see as one of the most vital areas of urban ministry. Teachers are often the first to see children and connect with families and may have the first opportunity to tell The Story.”
There is a registration fee of $50 per person. Funds are being raised for scholarships for those who want to attend but cannot pay the fee. The cost for churches who bring their teaching leaders has been capped at $250 for five or more.
There is seating for 180 at the Summit, and a full house is expected. Registration information can be found at urbanchristianeducationsummit.eventbrite.com.