I can wrap my head around preaching, but expectations of child formation seem to change more than Justin Bieber’s haircuts. The Sunday Schools at all three of churches I have served have ebbed and flowed. At the same time, I have a persnickety commitment to childhood Christian formation that is non-negotiable. Sunday School might be negotiable, but my Charlton-Heston-NRA-cold-dead-hands will not let me slack. Let the little children come to Jesus and do not stop them. So how does the community offer a compelling education that the kids will nag their parents to take them to and what can we do to empower the parents to help their kids fall in love with Jesus?
The fruit of a good program is probably that the kids want to be around their friends. We leaders try to make a program fun, and then let Jesus slip in through the side. I have seen bigger non-denominational and Methodist churches who do a great job of making Sunday School into a holy romper room. Tricycles, praise music, and a good teacher. I don’t think the Episcopal church could, even if it wanted to, pull that off. If we are not going to double down on entertainment culture, what does it mean to take the mantle of teacher or parent empower-er in the lives of our littlest disciples?
I like working with kids; I like teaching school chapels; I love double jumping my own kids in a bouncy house; but I think this is bigger than throw the priest at it so that he will fix it. Disclaimer – parents, I in no way would even think about being wreckless with your kids, even when I am sorely tempted to double bounce your particularly annoying, rambunctious 8 year old.
The status quo of children’s formation seems to be a medicinal approach to Sunday School. A little craft is the liquid bubble gum flavoring that helps the Jesus antibiotic medicine go down. I want to wonder aloud with you. What does it mean to form kids for Christ? Pleeeaassee don’t send me your favorite curriculum that will solve all my problems. I think we are being called to more existential question. I want to wonder WWHUD. What Would Jesus Have Us Do?
First, I/we don’t pray enough specifically for the kids. So I resolve to pray for by name our kids. E….h, E…….n, C….e, L…n, W….e, C…..r, A….w, N….e, D…..e, J….e, J…a, M…..e, K……e, M.c, E…n, I..a, O……a, N…e, T…e and others. I have a pretty practical view of prayer: It can’t hurt and will help. Please pray with me not only for our littlest disciples’ success but that our kids grow into the full stature of the Lord. I think we don’t empower our kids to pray effectively. One of my dreams is to have actual tools to send home with parents every week so that they can do nightly devotion, compline prayers, vespers, etc with their kids.
Please pray for our program, pray for our volunteers and pray for Miranda's leadership. May we all bring the light of Christ to our little ones so that they have the spiritual tools to live in joy.
Next time, I will put my old man glasses back on and rant about over-scheduled kids and Sunday School.