by: Allison Billard
I don’t like Sunday School. There. I said it. I don’t like it. Not at all. And the best part? I don’t really know why.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I attended Sunday School nearly every Sunday of my childhood. I taught Sunday School and Confirmation class in many different ways, using all sorts of programs, and using none at all. I don’t like any of it, and neither did the kids I was working with. Sunday School curriculum is notoriously awful. Either there’s not enough to go on unless you have a degree in theology, or it’s so chock full of stuff there’s no hope of getting through much of it and it goes to waste.
I don’t like that kids don’t really get to be a part of the service. Growing up we went out after the children’s story and came back for communion. At St. Mark’s now that’s more or less what we do. I get that the bible readings and the sermon aren’t exactly easy to grasp for little ones with short attention spans, but I would argue many adults have the same experience of zoning out during the sermon once in a while.
I don’t like the assumption that Sunday School has to be led by moms (and some dads, but mostly moms). Why don’t other people feel that they can participate in this ministry? Maybe the moms would like a break from constantly entertaining and teaching the little ones in their lives.
Similarly, I don’t like that I have to miss out on the service to bring my kids to Sunday School. Goodness knows I can’t even bribe them to go (or stay there) without me. I don’t know how my mother convinced me to go as a child, but nothing I do is working, I clearly don’t have her magical powers.
I know what you’re going to say. You don’t have to send them to Sunday School if you don’t want to, keep them in church. I do often do that, but then the mom guilt is very strong, telling me they’re missing out on key childhood experiences. But you know what? The truth is they don’t like Sunday School either. And pageants? Forget it. They start crying at the mere mention of putting on a costume for the nativity.
Maybe I’ve done something wrong. Despite my best, optimistic, hey this is going to be so fun mom enthusiasm, they have inherited my scepticism of Sunday school, new social situations and wearing costumes. Or maybe I’m just so awesome they can’t stand to be away from me for 20 minutes. Yes, ok, probably not that last one.
To be totally fair, at St. Mark’s, and other parishes I am sure, we really do make an effort for families and kids to be involved as greeters, servers, AV technicians, readers, the whole gamut. And for that I am eternally grateful. Maybe I just need to find other things the kids enjoy and forget about doing something because it’s the thing to do. What do you think?
Allison, her husband Robert and two young sons attend our 10:30 am Sunday worship. Allison is a St. Mark’s vestry member, and our former Youth Minister. She writes regularly for Anglican Life where this column was first published in the June 2018 edition.