Today I ran across an article that my friend Rich Melheim of Faith Inkubators wrote a while back which I believe and explains why we at Christ Church, program the way we do! Take a few minutes and read this thoughtful piece!
“PARENTS DON’T HAVE TIME”
Two hundred years ago, no self-respecting Christian parent would even consider placing his or her young child under another person’s spiritualdirection. Sunday Schools were created for spiritual orphans—for street children in England who had no parents to teach them the faith. Christian parents, of course,would be keeping their promises to God and doing their faith education themselves. They were not to be replaced by surrogates—no matter how well-meaning those spiritual mercenaries were.
One hundred and fifty years ago, the Bible was likely to be the only book a frontier family owned. Children learned to read by firelight with the Bible as their only text. Scripture and prayer were part of every meal and every nightly ritual in a Christian home.This was the norm—not the exception. One hundred years ago, Sunday schools started taking hold in America.
Immigrant children found a common faith language and faith community at church. God talk, family devotions, and prayer remained the duty of Christian parents. Churches saw their role as evangelizing children who had no Christian parents and reinforcing the faith of children who did. Fifty years ago the Baby Boom was going full throttle. Suburbs were sprawling. Churches were filled and bursting at the seams. Christian education wings were built—most of them modeled after the modern school buildings that were springing up to handle the masses of new children. Then, somewhere in the culture’s collective psyche, parents’ attitudes subtly shifted. Parents began to believe it was preferable to hire a professional to do their parenting for them rather than tackling many of their duties themselves. Blame convenience. Blame Dr. Spock. Blame the schools, the internal combustion engine, the interstate highway system or the parents, themselves, if you wish.The fact is, society began to question parents’ abilities to raise their own children.Drivers’ education, sex education, health education, and – surprise, surprise – religious education all were handed over to professionals.
The message was clear: “Someone else knows more about how to teach your child than you do.” Those few rebel parents who demanded an activist role in their child’s education were often shunned, dismissed as reactionaries or shuttled off to the margins of society. Church played into this game quite well.They were happy to take any child – even pick them up in a “Joy Bus” if that was convenient – and give them their “religious fix” for the week. Busy parents found this most convenient.They could go to worship, go to adult education or go back to bed and read the paper, enjoying the time off without distraction and resting in the confidence that their little darling would be properly trained in the faith by a qualified professional.
They had done their duty. It was a win-win situation for everyone.
Except for the child. The family. The church. The future.