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Bible studying in Sunday School May 1, 2007

Posted by David in Bible, Children, Childrens bibles, Childrens ministry, Church School, church-kids, Sunday School.
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Nancy Ammerman ponders the amount of quality bible teaching that children receive in Sunday school, since they leave the service before the sermon and often there is no Sunday school during the school holidays.

Also, when children are in Sunday school, free-thinking teachers rarely ask them to memorize anything, lest they be accused of indoctrination. It seems likely that these children’s reservoir of biblical memory will run dry before they ever have a chance to reach adulthood.

In some churches, this pattern is more a matter of neglect than intent, while in others it reflects a genuine ambivalence about teaching children the Bible. Is all that Bible reading and memorization a good thing? Have those biblical images embedded in our brains made us too accepting of patriarchy, too willing to trust authority, too willing to believe? Perhaps. But I am convinced that it need not be so, that when we commit something to memory, it sinks deep and often resurfaces in surprising ways to meet new situations. Biblical fragments (“knit together in my mother’s womb,” “her price is far above rubies,” “plans for your welfare and not for harm”) happily can grow with us, providing both a touchstone to the past and points of connection to new people and new meanings. We stuff our memories with so many things (lyrics to Sesame Street songs, Santa’s reindeer), why worry about adding the names of the apostles and the words of Psalm 23 to the mix?

But I don’t think that churches and Sunday school teachers can take full responsibility for teaching the children. Clearly parents have a responsibility too. And also, Sunday school teachers often do not get the support that they need from the church leadership. And remember it is the pastor who has had bible school training, not usually the Sunday school volunteer. Perhaps churches should invest in their volunteers by sending them to training courses.

Found via: Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island

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