Why Sunday School Sucks

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?

Read the rest: I Wonder If Sunday School Is Destroying Our Kids – Beliefs of the Heart.

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.

Postmoderns Have Nothing To Teach Our Children (and other fables)

Your Favorite Blogger with Courtney, kids, and cousins.

I just got back from a week at a dude ranch in Colorado. It was a celebration of my mom’s 70th birthday, and we gathered 17 Joneses of three generations for a week of horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and eating lots and lots of beef. It was the perfect family vacation (and I’ll post about it more in days to come, including my victory in barrel racing at the culminating rodeo).

I’ve got two brothers, each with a spouse and kids. As in many families, we were raised in the same faith (centrist Protestant), but we’ve gone our separate ways somewhat. Each couple is raising their kids differently, which causes interesting conversations when we get together at times like this.

One of the things that my nieces are particularly interested in is talking about God, especially with a theologian. One of my nieces attended Young Life camp earlier in the summer, so she was particularly keen on talking to me about God and Jesus and faith. She and I chatted a bit, and later she told my mom, “After talking to Uncle Tony, now I’m totally confused.”

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Christians Loving Witches

That’s what Pastor Phil Wyman and his small congregation have been trying to do for years in Salem, Massachusetts. I’ve been to his church, The Gathering. It’s right on main street, surrounded by New Age shops, palm readers, and other storefronts with pagan and occult paraphernalia. The Gathering meets in The Vault, a former bank on that street.

Phil is out there. In fact, he’s so out there that he was kicked out of the Four Square, a pretty out-there denomination. But he has persisted, participating in Halloween and other pagan festivals in Salem, and also going to Burning Man and Rainbow Gatherings with a Christian witness.

Now The Gathering is in trouble. They need to raise $50,000 right away to stay in their building and maintain that witness in Salem. You can donate here, and you can see their video request below:

The Theological Left Is Rising

This will come as no surprise to readers of this blog, but it’s time to be bullish about the future of progressive Christianity (aka, Incarnational Christians). According to a new survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, the proportion of religious conservatives in the United States is shrinking with each successive generation, and close to 20 percent of Americans today are religious progressives.

In American, conservative theology is waning, progressive theology is waxing.

Here’s what it currently looks like:

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