Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tweaking Sunday School and traditional VBS

I started reading Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer.  This book is about why children leave the church once they graduate high school and start college.  This book came from Barna research that showed alarming numbers.  Not satisfied with just that, Ham called on Beemer to actually interview 1000 adults who left church after high school years as to why they left.

One disturbing answer was that Sunday School did not do its job.  These people who came from conservative, Bible-believing church who went to Sunday School saw it as irrelevant and that it did not answer questions they had concerning what they taught in school, specifically over evolution and creation.  In fact, Sunday School made them even bigger heathens than before.  The ones who went to Sunday School were more likely to disbelieve the Bible, support premarital sex, support abortion, and consider the church to be hypocritical. 

One solution was to get rid of Sunday School and youth programs altogether.  That, however, was not recommended by the authors.  What was recommended, however, was to encourage parents to coach the children at home.  The church was never meant to be the main teacher of children in all things Christian; that role belongs to Dad.  The man is the head of the household, so he should lead the theological discussions about the Bible and salvation.  Sadly, there are kids that don't have a father in their household.  The mom has to take control.  The sad effect of this is that boys won't think it is cool for a man to love Jesus.  This is why dad's are so important.

With this knowledge in mind, I plan on tweaking my monthly youth newsletter.  Starting in August, I plan on including a section about what we are studying, encourage the parents to read the passages and discuss them at dinner or in the car on the way to soccer/dance/softball/gymnastics practice.  I also have kids that don't have Christian parents at all.  I will probably challenge them to talk about what they've learned with mom and dad.  I'll have to talk with the pastor and his wife about this in a few weeks, but I'm sure they won't mind.  This week the pastor's youngest daughter is marrying and next week I'm taking the GRE, so I think I'll wait till after then to consult them.

And VBS.  I have one more week to go.  All I can say, is I'm not doing it on Sundays during church next year.  I'm glad I did it this year because now I know why it doesn't work.  But next year, building or no building, we're going to try to have it during the evenings of only one week.  My problems are that the kids are not consistent.  I had 12 the first week, 2 the second week, and 6 this past week.  I've been happy with the numbers.  I know they don't mean much, but I want as many kids to hear the lessons as possible.  I know God's in control of the numbers, and he's destroying my pride for the moment.  Also, with the skits and songs during the main worship service, the older people, who are actually quite accommodating, say it takes away from their worship experience.  There would be a time where I objected, but I totally agree with them in this instance.  Sunday worship should be about preaching the Word, singing the Word, and eating the Word.  It was really complicated when we had communion this Sunday on top of the VBS activities and I helped add to the confusion.  Nope, next year, we can at least borrow someone's back yard, though I feel really sure that we'll have a for real building by then.  I'm just thankful that I have a very forgiving congregation that's willing to work with me.

One last thing: the curriculum.  I've been very happy with the content of Gold Rush.  It's good solid Gospel that exalts Jesus and portrays him as everything that he is: God, Man, the fulfilled Promise, and our only Savior.  However, the songs are too wordy, the motions are complicated, the skits were feature length and my dad had to rewrite them, and one teacher thought the lessons were more lecture format and didn't have enough interaction.  I thought the lessons were fine, but I will take this teacher's comments into account and both write Answers in Genesis and possibly choose another curriculum from Group or Gospel Light.  I've always been happy with what they've put out.  I really did want to give AiG a chance, though.  Perhaps I'll get their teacher book next year and really use it for Sunday School this time and not VBS.  I'm not quite ready to give them up yet. 

I'm also really happy with the involvement of a family that's new to the church and who are still new to the faith.  Their daughter Alexis, age 8, recently accepted Christ, and I can tell because her answers are more profound.  I'm just happy with what the Lord has done with these lives.

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