How do you spend your Sunday mornings? Some people sleep late and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, reading the newspaper or being with family. I admit that option appeals to me. I hear Sunday mornings are good for golfing, but I don't participate in that sport so I don't know. For me, Sundays - the whole week in fact - would not seem right without worship. But for the general population, there are attractive alternatives.
I must admit, when I'm on vacation, although I attend worship somewhere I rarely go to Sunday school. In fact, I might not even go to Sunday school at Shepherd King if I did not lead the class. There's something wrong with that picture, especially because I LOVE studying scripture and talking with other people about the intersection between faith and daily life. I recently took a year to return to seminary as a fulltime student and it was wonderful!! Going to classes, reading my assignments, studying, writing papers, taking tests - was invigorating. So why is it that Sunday school does not have the same effect?
Everyone needs to learn about their faith, throughout their lives. It can be exciting to explore scripture and talk about how it applies to our lives. I remember how I loved Sunday school back when I was in high school. My friends and I would gather to discuss current issues, to grapple with real-life situations like abortion, capital punishment, pre-marital sex, war, pollution, homelessness, and drug use. God and faith really came alive for me in those Sunday school sessions.
These days I don't find Sunday school very stimulating. I try to use good materials; currently we are studying the book of Acts. In a few months we plan to read and discuss Amish Grace, a book about forgiveness in the Amish community after someone killed several girls at an Amish school. These are good topics, but attendance is sluggish and lately our sessions have not been... uh... riveting. It makes me wonder what our congregation might do differently to engage people in conversation about scripture, faith matters, and daily life. Are there other topics, or is there a different format that might encourage people to gather and reflect on God's presence in our lives? (Suggestions are welcome; either post a comment or send me one at firstname.lastname@example.org).
What gets me is this: God's Word is not dull or irrelevant. Its themes are ones we struggle with today, its stories are revealing, surprising, exciting. But often the church fails to convey the power and immediacy of scripture narratives in Sunday school classes. Reading and talking about the Bible could, actually, be the most interesting and alluring part of Church life if we could figure out how to do it well. And that's why it is so distressing to me when it fails.
We in the Church need to present better opportunities for people to wrestle with issues of daily life and scripture/faith. We need to find a way to unleash the potency of the Bible in worship and in Christian education. We need to articulate the Word of God in ways that grab the imagination of contemporary people. Otherwise folks today will likely choose from among those appealing alternatives available on Sunday mornings.
Opening my Bible...