Have you ever noticed how the moms and dads who go to church and take their children are often people who came to faith in college or early adulthood, and not people who grew up in church?
Have you ever wondered why?
In my past life, besides being the overwhelmed mother of four fantastic kids, I was a Sunday school teacher. I taught a lot of Sunday school, years and years of it, and I loved it.
However, I can tell you: all Sunday school curricula are not created equal. There are Sunday school curricula that I loved using, and those that I literally choked over.
I think if we carefully evaluate some of the most popular and widely used Sunday school program materials, we will come to an understanding of why a lot of young people grow up in church and don't stay.
I'm not going to name names here, of bad resources (although there are some bad resources out there). Instead, I'm going to lay out a guideline that teachers of Christian education should carefully consider.
Many, many Sunday school programs see themselves as the "mother's helper" in terms of teaching children good behavior. This is the problem with them, and this could be why their graduates do not stick around.
The main points I often saw in Sunday school lessons were things like,
- Jesus wants you to share your toys with others.
- Jesus wants you to obey your parents.
- Jesus wants you to make peace with others... the way Isaac did when the others kept taking away his wells (this one drove me crazy, because it also took the story completely out of context and it rolled around like clockwork every three months, at the exclusion of many other significant Bible stories).
- Jesus wants you to tell your friends about the ABC's of salvation and bring them to Sunday school.
There are three glaring problems with this emphasis:
- It is all about works, not about grace. (Are you behaving well enough to keep Jesus happy?)
- It is all about what we do and not about what God does. (They questions revolve around, "What have you done for Jesus?" rather than, "Do you know what Jesus has done for you?")
- Children are expected to want to please and obey Jesus, without ever having been adequately introduced to Him.
When I taught Sunday school I found that kids love theology. Love it. And what I mean by that is this: you start talking about God with kids, about His attributes and His character, and they light right up. Not all of them, of course, but a lot of them. I'd even dare to say a majority of the kids in my classes got really interested when we started discussing, for instance, what it means that God is omnipresent, or that He is sovereign. If you teach them about an almighty, loving, perfect, righteous, sovereign God, and you show them verses in the Bible that explain these concepts and qualities, then you are feeding their souls.
ahhhhh.... out of time