Thursday April 29,2004
Introduction to Christian EducationMidterm Paper
In the Book 10 Best Practices to make Your Sunday School Grow the Authors, Ken Hemphill and Bill Taylor Offer Ten Examples of tried methods of Growing a Working Sunday School. I wish to take an opposing viewpoint and offer to you three reasons why one of these best practices has not worked in my past experience. I play the devils advocate here. I do hope there is little dislike of me afterward. In Chapter 2 the Authors head their Second Practice as Organize with Purpose. I will offer now three reasons why the content of this chapter not only does not work in all situations, but rather, fails in most.
I have been in the Church of the Nazarene for 27 years that I can remember. (There have actually been 31, but youll forgive my lack of memory prior to age 4.) My Father was, at the time, an Ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene on the New England District as an assistant Pastor at the Hopedale Church of the Nazarene under Rev. John Newell. They began the arduous task of rebuilding a congregation whose attendance had fallen to the brink of non-existence. There they instituted all of the freshly learned theological training given them by the excellent educators at Eastern Nazarene College. Including newer concepts at the time of how to build and grow a Sunday School. To the best of my recollection the Ordering of the classes here was completely ineffectual. There were too few interested people, too few classrooms, and too few workers. The Sunday School was my sister and myself. There were no adults who wanted to be involved in Sunday School as students. Here lies my first argument with our distinguished Authors. Their plan may work in a functioning but diminishing Sunday School that simply needs new life, but in a situation as described above, it becomes a fruitless endeavor. The Harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few is a truth, but there can be no harvesters if there is no harvest to bring in.
As I grew older and began to realize there was a call on my own life, and I began to rebel against Gods Plans for me I fought against the constraints of an ordered Sunday School. Here I was in High School, Trying to find myself in this world and in God and was placed in Classes with others my age who were not of the same ilk as I. (i.e. a Pastors Kid.) We clashed. Bitterly. The others did not possess any sort of Education in the Church, and those that did were newly educated, and had only a partial view of a very big Picture. As if viewed through a pinhole in a shoebox. Here lies my second disagreement with the goodly gentlemen Authors. A structured Sunday School does no good if those being structured shouldnt be housed within the same framework as others. It is on the level of putting High School Seniors in classes with 6th Graders. The younger students have the basic grasp of what they are going to need to continue their education, but do not possess the additional information needed to finish the tasks set before them in a proper manner. Mathematic Principles are necessary to perform complicated Calculus functions, but simply having the basic principles in hand does not make them able to perform the Calculus. On the contrary, this seems to bring about greater confusion and inability to perform them.
Now that I have finally stopped running from the Lords call on my life and have accepted the new direction He has pointed me in, I find myself in a situation much more in tune with what Mr. Hemphill and Mr. Taylor are trying to get across. I attend The Church of the Nazarene where I am a Member and a Locally licensed Minister. There the Sunday School has indeed shrunk, but it has also grown. Please, allow me to explain. Though the numbers of attendees has dropped, the number of classes has increased as people of the same learning and not just age are in classes with their peers. This however has led to one other difficulty that is foreseen, but not duly addressed in this book. We now have a class of know-it-alls who have been in the church since the suns light first shone on the Earth, and a class of empty vessels that we are filling to the best of our ability to be the next leaders. The know-it-alls are the problem. They range in age from late teenage to early seventies and they are just happy as clams to possess what they already possess and dont want to possess anymore. Now that these folks have been properly arranged, where do we get the leaders for the know-it-alls. They already know it all. At least they do if you ask them and theyll tell you they do. Our greatest teacher in the Church is already committed to another class and well gifted for that class. The flaw here is that the organization happened without the training. The Church, as our Authors did, got ahead of itself.
Here, I have asked you to follow the negative side to the Second Chapter of 10 Best Practices to make Your Sunday School Grow. You need not agree with me, that is not my intent. Only to make you think about it.