Sunday School–Part 2: Where We Are Today

Watered Down Teachings

I have attended Sunday School since I was a child and have continued as an adult. Yet, as I do Bible studies, attend Sunday school, and read my Bible, I still encounter moments that I don’t know the next step or wonder if I have always had it wrong. 

I have ventured into being a homeschool mom in the last couple of years and it has opened me to view learning through a different lens. I look at each part of our curriculum as to how to present and what the outcome will be. It has brought me to look at how we teach and learn about the bible. The church and even Christian education present the Bible “stories”. However, isn’t it really Bible “history”?

A story is defined as “a connected account or narration, oral or written, of events of the past; history”. History is defined as “a chronological record of events, as of the life or development of a people or institution, often including an explanation of or commentary on those events”.  

Although these definitions are similar, when we present stories and history in education they are so very different. In education we relate to stories as fairy tales, whimsical, make believe and more. We ask for children to be creative, use their imagination and often don’t rely on fact and truth to create stories. For history we present it as facts, use timelines and show concrete photos of great leaders, places and more. 

Therefore when we hear stories of the bible are we insinuating/teaching children to also believe they are not true and have no truth? Versus when we teach and reference the bible as history we are teaching about life, development and actual events. To me this is a huge difference! How this is presented to us as a child isn’t concreted in the same way if it is portrayed as a story versus history. Is it no wonder we are losing people in their faith?

Not once did I remember a Sunday School teacher teaching me that the words in the Bible were history. I have attended church my entire life. What I took away from Sunday School was ribbons for memorizing the books of the Old and New Testament, The Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed. Did all the memorizing get me any better understanding on how to walk with the lord and how to apply to my daily life? Truly not!

Today’s Sunday Schools, Awanas program and all others do offer a bit of scripture and story telling, but I often hear about the snacks, games, and activities that children do. They remember that and go for that more than they do the word of God most times. I often believe parents use it as a babysitting service for an hour of time that they can have to themselves. I think of times past when there was no need for all the pomp and circumstance we now have. 

We have curriculum galore, customized for everything. We have Sunday programs, midweek programs, VBS and yet our number of faithful believers continues to decline. Is this because we have lost focus of what it should be? Have our churches lost their spiritual vitality? Is the increasing number of religious “nones” a clear picture that we are doing something wrong?

I also believe that without parents incorporating teachings in their homes, no amount of Sunday School and Sunday services will keep believers in their faith. Ensuring that children are receiving the same message both at home and in the church is imperative.

Next week we will take a look at biblical study and application to life. 

Contributed by Jessica Clemens Sunday School–Part 2: Where We Are Today Sunday School–Part 2: Where We Are Today

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