Sunday School

  • In last week’s First Notes, I talked about the importance of worship and that one of the reasons I support the upcoming change in Sunday School timing is because worship is the place where God’s people praise and love of God and receive His good gifts. Our children are indeed God’s people. They belong among us for that entire time.

    This week, I’d like to talk about the purpose of Sunday School and Adult Bible Class.

    I may have mentioned this before, but Ted Kober, an LCMS layperson who heads up a group called Ambassadors of Reconciliation, did a study recently on congregational conflict. Kober found that the greatest single predictor of the level of conflict a church would experience revolved around one issue: their devotion to God’s Word. The higher the percentage of people studying God’s Word together, devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, the less chance there was of significant conflict. The reason for this was simple. When conflict arose in the church or in people’s relationships, they dealt with it as God has called us to deal with conflict in the Scriptures.

    In our current system, our Sunday School kids might get 10-15 minutes of time studying God’s Word in Sunday School. They are limited by this time frame so that it’s challenging to ask and answer questions. It’s challenging in such a time frame to dig deep, to connect the story of the day to the rest of the Bible, to connect the biblical story to their lives.

    Parents and grandparents of Sunday School kids also do not have much of an opportunity to attend Adult Bible Study because we don’t have a system in place for caring for their children in the Bible study hour.

    Offering more time for Sunday School will allow our children to learn more, to let the stories of Jesus sink into their lives even deeper. Offering more time for Sunday School will also allow parents to attend Adult Bible Study and continue to grow and learn in their faith, so that they can feel more confident in parenting their child to love Jesus.

    An education hour is a time when a congregation can dedicate itself to basking in the joy of God’s story. It is a time when we pass on the joyous news that we are now a part of that story because Jesus has died and is risen for us (adults and children) and our salvation.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

  • Last Sunday, I mentioned our Sunday School switch and our desire for more Sunday School teachers. As the number of children in our congregation grows, the need for more teachers is evident. In the fall of 2020 we will have a group of young people starting confirmation. These are good challenges to be facing, but we have to prepare for them.

    If you’re anything like I was the year before I started teaching Sunday School, back in 1999, you probably had no inkling it was something you’d be asked to do. Perhaps at the thought of yourself teaching Sunday School you say to yourself, “I don’t know enough,” or “I’m not good with kids,” or “I’m too old,” or “I’m too young,” or some other negative thing about yourself. I know I’ve done that about myself. In 1999 I had to be the youngest Sunday School teacher St. Paul Lutheran Church had ever seen in its 100+ year history, but God shaped me through that experience, and he shaped my four kindergarteners.

    In 2003, in my first year of college, I started having unwanted, unbidden thoughts that maybe I should become a pastor. I tried to repress them, hide them, explain them away with how I wasn’t enough. Despite my best efforts, God had other plans. People I barely knew started coming up to me and asking if I’d ever thought about being a pastor. No joke: there was one week where at least a dozen people had this conversation with me. Some of them were strangers at a church I had never even attended before.

    Sometimes God does that. Sometimes God works through other people to nudge us in the direction that He wants us to go. I didn’t listen very well. It took 10 years before I actually stepped foot on the seminary campus for my first day of classes, but I don’t know that I would have kept thinking about it if it hadn’t been for the encouragement of others.

    Teaching Sunday School might not be your gift or your calling. That’s okay. You may be called to some other form of service in the church and community, but you also might be surprised by how well you take to the task and how much God blesses you as you pass on the faith to His children. Think about it. Pray about it.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy  

  • Over the past three weeks, I’ve offered some of the reasoning behind our proposed Sunday School change, where we will move Sunday School to after the service, coinciding with the Adult Bible Study. A lot of the questions that I have heard in relation to this change are about logistics. Where are the kids going to meet? How long is Sunday School going to last? What about cake Sundays?

    All of these are good questions that we’ll work through together. But I wanted to offer some ways in which I see opportunities in the logistics of our situation.

    Currently, I am not able to be involved in Sunday School because I’m leading worship and preaching while the kids are in Sunday School. In our proposed switch, I would be able to take a turn in teaching the Sunday School kids on occasion, leaving opportunity for another leader to facilitate Adult Bible Study.

    Currently, the Sunday School teachers rotate from week to week. The Adult Bible Study typically works through a study in a set number of weeks. We may have opportunity to use more of a block schedule. This will allow Sunday School teachers to be present for an entire Bible Study series, instead of missing a week here and a week there.

    Also, we have a growing group of Sunday School kids who will enter into Confirmation instruction in the Fall of 2020. Having the Sunday School, Bible Study, and Confirmation classes all at the same time will be far more convenient for families with children of multiple ages than trying to arrange schedules to meet on a weekday evening for Confirmation.

    Furthermore, the synchronized timing of our education hour may provide opportunity for us to coordinate what we are studying so that parents, confirmation students, and Sunday School kids can all be looking at similar material that is tailored to their age group.

    In my view, God has blessed us with an amazing problem: We have a growing number of children in our congregation. The change in Sunday School timing reflects a positive change in our congregation: we are growing and growing up together. As we follow Jesus, let us do so together, studying God’s Word as one, united church.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

  • On Sunday at the voters meeting after church, the council introduced a change that we’ve been discussing for a few months now.

    The proposed change involves the way we teach Sunday School to our children. Currently, the children leave the worship service after the children’s chat and come back into the worship service at some point during or after the offering. Starting in September, we’ll be trying a test run of having the kids remain in the worship service and holding Sunday School for the children at the same time as Bible study for the adults after worship.

    The current plan is to try this from September through December, assessing if we should continue the practice into 2020 and beyond.

    I know that this is a big ask. It is a lot to ask of parents, Sunday School teachers, and probably most especially of our Sunday School kids.

    There are pros and cons to the current way we handle Sunday School. There are pros and cons to the change we will be making. I know I’ve spoken with several of you about this, but I haven’t reached everybody one-on-one, so I wanted to speak to this change here in the First Notes. Over the next few weeks I plan to lay out some of the reasoning behind the change and how the congregational leadership hopes it will better form and instruct the congregation’s children as we all seek to follow Christ together.

    As Ellen noted in the meeting on Sunday, this began with a simple question from me wanting to know the history of how we came to have the current policy for Sunday School. Discussions with the council, the elders, other congregation members, and nearby pastors have led me to support the change as the best course of action at this time for First Lutheran Church and Preschool.

    I know there are a lot of questions and a lot of logistical challenges to work through before we launch in September. I want to be as transparent about this change as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk with me about them. Let’s do our best to refrain from gossip. Let’s walk forward together into this change with hopefulness that this is where the Lord is leading our community.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

  • In last week’s First Notes, I mentioned the proposed change to move Sunday School after the worship service, during the Bible study hour. This week, I’d like to share one reason I think this is important related to worship.

    What is worship?

    You may find different dictionaries use different phrasing, but in essence, worship is an individual or community showing adoration, praise, reverence, love to something or someone.

    For Christians, worship is God’s people gathering together to adore, praise, revere, and love our Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    In worship services at First Lutheran, we show our love and praise of God with hymns and prayers and a confession of our common faith in God. We also offer back to God from the abundance of the financial blessings He has poured upon us.

    In worship, we are also blessed by God’s good gifts coming down to us as God comes among His people in His Word and Sacraments. We receive God’s Word of forgiveness in the Absolution. We receive God’s Word of instruction and salvation in the three Bible readings and in the sermon. We receive the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper for our forgiveness, life, and salvation.

    In our current format, you will see that our children are missing out on some of these opportunities to love and praise God. Our Sunday School students and teachers miss the confession of faith in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. They miss the prayers of the church. They often miss the offering.

    Our Sunday School students and teachers also miss some of the opportunities to receive God’s good gifts since they do not hear the Bible readings or the sermon.

    The reason why I think it is wise for us to move Sunday School outside the worship time is simple: our children are God’s people. There is no age limit on worship. There is no age limit on receiving God’s good gifts nor on being able to love and praise God.

    Sunday School itself is a great time to teach our children about the faith, to share the stories of God’s action in the world most especially through Jesus. But worship, worship is the time when we teach children and all new believers how to be God’s people, how to love and praise God in songs and prayers. Worship is where we teach each new generation how God comes down to us with His good gifts of forgiveness and life.

    Our children belong in worship because they are God’s people. 

    God’s blessings on your week.

Facebook Image

LCMS logoFirst Evangelical Lutheran Church is a member of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a family of congregations focused on bringing Christ to the nations and sharing His unconditional saving Love within our community.

Give online to the ministry of First Lutheran Church
Simply Giving website

Go to top
JSN Boot template designed by JoomlaShine.com