November 30, 2007 5 Comments
It seems that many atheist parents are concerned that their children should learn at an early age how to deal with the challenge of living among Christian believers. Furthermore, these parents want to ensure that their children and teenagers learn their own secular values.
Actually I find it commendable that parents are concerned with teaching their values to their children and are willing to be proactive in the effort. Having said that, I also believe their values are misguided. I find it interesting that they are choosing to use Sunday School as the model for the things they are trying to do.
“But some nonbelievers are beginning to think they might need something for their children. ‘When you have kids,’ says Julie Willey, a design engineer, ‘you start to notice that your co-workers or friends have church groups to help teach their kids values and to be able to lean on.’
Dr Mohler sums it up very nicely. He says
In a strange way, the rise of atheist Sunday Schools illustrates the central dilemma of atheism itself. Try as they may, atheists cannot avoid talking about God — even if only to insist that they do not believe in Him. Now, atheist parents are organizing Sunday Schools as a parallel to the Christian practice. In effect, atheists are organizing themselves in a way similar to a local church. At least some of them must sense the awkward irony in that.
This is a very interesting observation. The dilemma faced by atheists is quite telling. It seems to me that if there really was no God that they would not have this problem. The old saying says that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. So what can we learn from this?
First, Sunday School is a very effective way to teach our children (our adults too). Unfortunately, many people choose not to go or take their children because they do not see the value in it. That is a huge mistake and they are hurting themselves and the church in the process.
Second, churches should re-double their efforts to teach their members the importance of the small group atmosphere in discipleship. In my own Sunday School class we seek to create a sense of family. One way we attempt to do this is by having monthly fellowship events and members homes. We don’t do anything church related, we just eat (we are Southern Baptists after all) and fellowship. By spending time with each other outside of church we are investing in each others lives. This allows us to honestly teach and discuss the principles and text of the Bible.
Third, discipleship is a team effort. We can effectively teach our children ourselves but those lessons will be best learned and remembered by our kids if they are reinforced by other adults in positions of authority in the lives of our children. Sunday School leaders can and do fill those positions by people who share the values of the parents.
If you are not involved in a Sunday School class then I want to urge you to join one. Take your time and find the one that best fits you in your church. You will be doing yourself a favor and be a blessing to the members of your class. You will also receive many blessings from your class so set your clock an hour earlier on Sunday morning from now on.