This is day 19 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School.
Printed Christian Literature has been an important tool in the growth of both the Sunday School movement and the modern missionary movement, which gained momentum in the late 18th century. In the early days on the frontier where so few books were available to the poor and destitute, the Bible, tracts, and devotional guides were treasured.
A Sunday School with a missionary mindset will discover many values of the literature. Christian publishers today continue this ministry. The Internet, digital publishing, and other advances are changing the way literature is delivered. But the content is still being delivered.
The Bible continues to be the best seller among books, a position it has held for decades. The Bible allows people to read and hear God’s message directly for themselves, be drawn to Him for salvation, or engage in extended times of reading and study. Comparing different translations helps clarify the meaning. Many churches choose to give each child a Bible when they reach a certain milestone, such as entering 4th grade.
Christian tracts containing the plan of salvation have been used as witnessing tools for at least a century. Tracts based on other topics have been effective in initiating spiritual conversations, offering comfort, encouraging a person who is discouraged or without hope, or explaining steps of obedience to God.
Christian fiction is important among leisure reading. In addition to wholesome themes, the stories help the reader focus on godly traits and moral truths. Identifying with a strong Christian character can stretch the reader and cause him or her to evaluate their own life.
Devotional guides come in many formats such as magazines, books, or part of the weekly Bible study curriculum. Even if a person does not have a devotional time every day, these resources remind and encourage them to work towards that goal.
Christian magazines are attractive because they are targeted to specific people groups—parents, teens, men, women, kids, sportsmen, and more.
Bible study guides and other Christian books enrich the heart of Bible teaching. Learners can “study the lesson” before or after a session, teachers receive preparation helps, and Christian books can help enlighten and dig deeper. Here is a recent example:
Last week I met Rob, who began attending our church’s Sunday School and worship about six weeks ago. As my husband and I visited with him over a potluck dinner, Rob told his story. He had attended church sporadically as a kid and young adult. In his words, he considered himself a “half-time Christian.” Then he read a Christian book emphasizing that being a Christian means having a personal relationship with Jesus. Rob said, “Suddenly I ‘got it.’ I became a Christian this past February and began visiting churches. Here at this church I have a sense of belonging. And I love the Bible study and discussions in my class. I’m excited about being a Christian.”
Marie Clark has served as the Bible Teaching and Discipling Team Leader for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists since 1996.