If you’ve been in a church longer than six months and your class isn’t perpetually studying a quarterly, odds on favorite is you have participated in the age old discussion – what do we want to do next? Either everyone stares at the floor or several throw out the latest book they read – or the most popular study at the Christian bookstore. Eventually, your class settles for something or just does whatever the bossy little Church Lady wants to do. Sometimes it’s for the class’ good; sometimes you spend the next three months wondering if you really have to go to Sunday school this Sunday.
Now, let’s be fair, Ms Matilda the church lady occasionally comes up with something really good. The local Christian bookstore occasionally puts their best stuff on sale. The latest book may be totally awesome – even bad decision processes can sometimes get good decisions despite themselves. But is hit and miss really the best we can do when we are trying to educate God’s children?
The biggest problem – right after no one bothers to pray about it first – is that no one is even asking the most important question – what is it that you’re trying to teach, anyway? About Jesus is a great, overly vague, answer – of course we’re teaching about our Savior! But what are we trying to make sure people know about Him?
You hear crickets too, don’t you?
If you have no idea what your goals are, how do you know what you’ve reached them? Sunday school should be more than a school of fish swimming in a meandering circle – the operative term is ‘school’ and it’s past time we put some operation back into that term.
Don’t expect a single blog post to solve your entire problem – in this case, it shouldn’t. I don’t know you, your congregation or your circumstances. I don’t know if your congregation is mostly college grads or mostly high school drop outs – I do know both need the education your church should provide but where you start is very different with those types of groups.
But you DO know all that stuff – and can find out what you don’t already know. What does your congregation need? Are they Scripturally literate or do they have a hard time discussing Scripture because they know so little about it? Can they verbalize the Gospel – and explain it to someone else? Do they have a good understanding of basic Christian theology – or do they actually think Christianity and Islam worship the same god? Do they understand your denomination’s doctrine – or are they actually convinced that your denomination teaches a different denomination’s doctrine?
Whew – that’s a ton of territory in just a few questions. But knowing where your congregation is is the first step toward figuring out where it needs to go. Swimming in circles is fun for fish – but it’s a poor substitute for real education. Knowing where you are going is the best way to have a chance to actually get there!