Sunday-school 2

August 15, 2007

I wrote some thoughts on Sunday-school 2 days ago. It basically boiled down to the fact that in all parts of youth ministry relationships should be primary. But I’m part of a church where the Sunday-school tradition is still very much alive and kicking, and I’m guessing that I’m not the only one. So here is some more thoughts I have on that. That is, after everyone involved have realised how important relationships are!

I believe that the task of what was traditionally called Sunday-school (O please could we find another name for that!!!) is to help young people become part of a bigger story. The story of Jesus, and the story of the followers of Jesus. Help them so that this story becomes part of their story. That this story will influence their story on a day to day basis. This would mean that over many years we will have conversations about our lives, about the reality of our lives, and we will also have conversations about the story of Jesus, also the story of the Bible. OK, so this is an idealistical outline:-)

I look at the material generally used by churches, and ask myself: “Myself. If you were to look for literature that would change your life, would you be reading this?”. And the answer is still no. I keep on wondering why we prescribe books for our kids which we don’t really experience as life-changing. I’ve read some great books in my life, and not all of them have been difficult. If I were to look for literature for the youth at a church, shouldn’t I start with something I really believe in?

When trying to make young people part of the story of Jesus, we would need to know the story. And those with whom they are in relationship would need to know the story. It’s a big big story, and most of us need some kind of outline through which we look at this story. I guess this is where theology comes in right? Our theology is some kind of outline we use for the story of Jesus. It highlights certain parts, it gives some structure to the story, it helps us to get a grip on the story. Obviously we should recognize the limits of such an outline, but it is needed. Generally, the outline currently used in Reformed churches are the different Creeds and Catechisms of the further reformation era (Confession of Faith and the Heidelberg Catechism in the Netherlands and the Canons of Dortd). Although I don’t think this is wrong, I think this is problematic. Really, how many of the adults in our youth ministries are able to use this as an outline for the story of Jesus?

I find something like The story we find ourselves in much more appropriate as a possibility to use as a general outline to first introduce young people to the story of Jesus, and the story of God (haven’t tried it out yet though). It’s something that is easily understandable, contemporary, and can give an easy first step into this story. If the adults that are in relationship with the young people in our churches understand this Story, then we can start expecting our young people to start gaining some insight into this story from them.

Maybe another thing. Understanding the story of Jesus, and the story of God, and making it part of my story, or making my story part of that story, whichever way around, isn’t the same as knowing the stories of the Bible, although I think this is also important.

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