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The Parent Blog

Where Sunday School Failed Me

When I was a youth pastor, I remember having a young man tell me that he had learned so much in his time with me. I was humbled, but curious what was behind him saying that to me, I asked him what it was that prompted him to say that. He told me that in his previous church experience, he had been taught stories from the Bible in a very detached way from his own life, and that sometimes they had a “punch line” of sorts but without any clear application to life, connection to Jesus (when it was from the Old Testament), and they felt like just another story to tell kids.

His comment made me consider my own experience of growing up in Sunday school. There was a very clear theme to what I was taught:

Don’t do this.
Do this.
Don’t do this.
Do this.
Don’t do this. Don’t do this. Don’t do this.

God wants us to be good little girls and boys. That’s what I thought. And though it might have been there in the subtext, what wasn’t actually said was: “because Jesus…” Jesus loves us so incredibly deeply, he wants us to follow him and his way, and he wants the very best for us. That’s what’ll make it good.

That’s the why to the what. And, unfortunately, when I was growing up, the what became the Gospel when the why really was. I learned to do right and not to do wrong. I learned how to behave. I learned to be a moral person.

But what I didn’t really learn was the clear transformative message of Jesus. Well, perhaps, I did have one part of it: I knew very clearly that Jesus came to save us from sin. And though this is an incredibly important part of what Jesus came to do, it wasn’t the whole Gospel message. I wish I had learned that he also came to show us God’s love, set up his kingdom, and shutdown religion. I wish I had learned that God’s story was one large story that started with the creation of the world, extended throughout the Old and New Testaments, and that we are living in that exact same story today.

I wish I had learned that I am a part of the same church that the people in Acts were a part of, and that as a part of the church and the kingdom of God, that I have a part to play in God’s story. And that when Jesus went back into heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to come and help us, guide us, and be with us to do big kingdom work.

That’s a lot more exciting than “do this” and “don’t do this.” A lot.

As we have been developing curriculum at The Meeting House, there is something we want our kids and youth to be so very clear on: it’s about Jesus, it’s about Jesus, it’s about Jesus.
God does want them to be good little girls and boys (and so much more!), but it really isn’t about the outcome of their actions. It’s about the source. For Jesus to be Lord of our lives is to filter everything through a Christ-centred heart. For us to give our kids and youth the very best opportunity to get to know Jesus and become lifelong disciples, we need to do more than tell them what to do or not do. We need to help them encounter Jesus, get excited about his mission, and see their place in the kingdom.

And because we so deeply desire this message to get out there, we have also been sharing our curriculum with churches all around the world. And this week, we have now launched our brand new website to be able to share more clearly and efficiently this amazing kingdom resource. Feel free to share it with anyone you know may want to use it.

-Natalie Frisk, The Meeting House Curriculum Pastor

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