What are International Sunday School Lessons/Uniform Series?
The Uniform Series is a 6-year plan for reading and studying the Bible. By participating in the Uniform Series, a believer will be given help in knowing the content of the Bible, understanding its message, and responding to that message by living a life of faith and love.
The Bible is, of course, central to this plan. An effort is made to take at least 1 lesson or daily Bible reading from each book of the Bible over a 6-year span. Naturally, some parts of the Bible are more “teachable” than others, and these sections get more of the attention in the series.
What is “uniform” about the Uniform Series?
Uniform means “the same,” and there are 2 ways this series demonstrates “sameness.” First, the series is the result of the combined efforts of several denominations and publishing houses, and is thus shared by all of them. That means a class in the Christian church on the corner, another in the Methodist church down the street, and still another in the Presbyterian church across town might all be using the same text on any given Sunday. Each of these churches can buy curriculum or annual commentaries on the Uniform Series from their preferred publisher.
In some of those churches you’ll see the second level of uniformity. In every class of every age student, the same text or theme will be addressed. Uniform Series lessons are available for every age level from some publishers. (Standard Publishing produces material on the Uniform Series only for adults.) This allows for family discussion of the day’s Sunday school lessons in those churches that use the Uniform lessons in that way.
How is the Bible used in the Uniform Series?
The Uniform Series is designed to get students into every part of the Bible during the 6-year plan. That does not mean a student will study every verse in the Bible in that time. The Bible contains over 30,000 verses, so a plan would need to cover some 100 verses a week in order to include every verse in 6 years—even more if any verses were repeated in that time. Instead, the Uniform Series presents an overview of the entire Bible.
This overview is not simply a condensed study of Genesis through Revelation. Rather, the Uniform Series arranges the texts under 8 topical heads: God, Creation, Hope, Faith, Community, Tradition, Justice, and Worship. Each quarter in the 6-year study features texts related to one of these themes, so each theme appears 3 times in the course of the study. Throughout this study, participants will be directed to every part of the Bible. Some parts of the Bible—the Gospels, for example—will be studied more often than others. Typically the winter quarters will include lessons about the birth of Christ, and spring quarters will include lessons about his resurrection.
The people who develop the Uniform Series believe the Bible is the record of the revelation of God in Christ, the key resource for understanding the Christian faith, and the most effective means of confronting persons with the great concerns of the gospel. These concerns include personal faith, values, human relationships, social responsibility, Christian hope, and the implications of Christian discipleship under the lordship of Christ and in the fellowship of his Spirit.
Can I just keep 6 years’ worth of lessons and then repeat them?
Naturally, a church could repeat old lessons from the series, but the Uniform Series is not merely a cycle that repeats every 6 years. Every 6-year study is completely new and fresh. Texts that were not used in one “cycle” may appear in the next. This way the student is enabled to study even more of the Bible the longer he or she sticks with the Uniform Series.
What are the themes and texts of the current 6-year study?
The current plan began with the fall quarter (September, October, November) of 2010 and runs through the summer of 2016. The lesson themes and general texts are shown on a chart that you can download on the page linked below.