Some want to bury Sunday School. Others seek creative approaches to learning. Which are you?
I think that it is time that we re-think Sunday school — and by “re-think” I mean eliminate.
While Sunday schools may have had noble origins–providing an education for working-class folks—today, Sunday school does a couple of things. It allows us to feel like we are catechizing our children even if we are not, it segregates the church into different age groups, and it makes Sunday another exciting day of sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher drone on (like the other five days out of the week and which children often love). Even worse, in many churches, children attend Sunday school rather than participating in the worship of the community. It is then entirely possible for children to grow up and only worship with the community for a couple of months each year.
And in this, I wonder if the current concerns with decreasing church attendance and increasing religious identification as “none” is little more than the chickens coming home to roost.
When I was thirteen years old I refused to go back to Sunday School.
“I’m never going to go to that class again,” I announced to my parents with all the self-righteousness that an adolescent can muster. Our well-meaning, elderly teacher had preached to us about abstaining from alcohol, and I rejected her as a straight-laced, out-of-touch old woman.
A year later, another adult volunteer taught me that sexuality is a good gift of God to be enjoyed responsibly.
Both made lasting impressions on me. They illustrate both the failure and the possibilities of Sunday School. It has the potential to be both out-of-touch with life and a powerful process for Christian formation.