All this week, as part of Patheos’s “Passing on the Faith” series, I’m writing about how the church should — and should not — educate our children about Christianity. Today, I excerpt an excellent post from Beliefs of the Heart:
Several years ago I met with a woman distraught by her son’s rejection of Christianity.
She said, “I did everything I could to raise him right. I taught him to be like the ‘heroes of faith,’ with the faithfulness of Abraham, the goodness of Joseph, the pure heart of David, and the obedience of Esther.”
She wondered why he rejected Christianity.
I wondered why it took him so long.
Here is how we destroy the gospel message
Look at almost any Sunday school curriculum. You’ll find:
Abraham was faithful, and God made him the father of a nation. So be faithful like Abraham.
Joseph was a good little boy (unlike his “bad” brothers), and God made him Prime Minister of Egypt. So be good like Joseph.
David had a pure heart (unlike his brothers), and God made him King of Israel. So have a pure heart like David.
Esther was an obedient girl. God made her Queen of Persia and she saved God’s people. So be obedient like Esther.
Finally, if we fail to be good, Jesus will forgive us (a “P.S.” tacked onto the end).
What’s so bad about these Sunday school lessons?
Nothing really. Except that they lie about God, they lie about these “heroes of the faith,” they lie about the Bible, and they lie about the gospel. Apart from that, they are pretty good. Oh, they also create “younger brother” rebels and “older brother” Pharisees.
Is the gospel our central theme, or is it a “PS” tacked onto the end?
I couldn’t agree more. In fact, it’s a theme that’s addressed by Rachel Held Evans in the new Animate: Bible resource that I developed.
Have you tried something different with Sunday School? Or have you canceled Sunday School altogether? I did both. I’ll write about it on Friday.