October 23, 2015


A number of churches have their adult Sunday school class prior to the worship service. I’m surprised by how often the Sunday school lesson then becomes the opening segment of the worship service. This is a common precursor in my own church and only recently have I realized how disconnecting it is for those coming in just for the worship service. During one of my recent church visits I felt completely left out when the pastor spent 10 minutes doing a recap of the Sunday school class to which I had not attended. Think of attending an English class where the teacher spends the first 10 minutes recapping his previous Algebra class.

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----Two thousand years of layered traditions has not done the condition of church well. We are left with such variety of not only beliefs but also of rituals and processes that a person can pretty much choose any style and atmosphere he desires in a church. Yet there’s one style of church Sunday school I haven’t yet found.
-----Maybe they should have called it “Sunday exhortation”. Schooling is something a person should do for himself continuously throughout life. Schooling is what I would expect from “Sunday school”. And if schooling were done properly for the purpose of actually advancing and building knowledge in the congregation, then this ten minute recap before the sermon, although maybe a bit lengthy, would be rather beneficial to the congregation’s memory, which is what one hopes to get from schooling.
-----But, at least from what I’ve experienced, what “school” part there might be happening before the sermon is not very educational, and often is even misleading. I remember a series of lessons on Revelation I attended a few years ago. In at least half the sessions the leader was sure to announce that the purpose of Revelation was to tell us we win. Then any discussion from the class attempting to match the imagery of Revelation with possible events to come finished under a big heap of his ice, sometimes dry ice, regardless of the fact Revelation states its purpose as’ “…to show to his servants what must soon take place.” (Rev 1:1) Odd that the “teacher” would miss the message of the very first verse. Maybe Revelation anticipated such carelessness, for at 4:1, when John is called “up hither”, God is deliberate about why, “…and I will show you what must take place after this.” Maybe the teacher had something against first verses. At least the woman teacher I heard bad-mouthing scriptural attitudes towards women had enough good sense to stammer, stutter, and trail off her point after reading I Cor 11:4-12. Maybe the Bible is wrong: maybe it is the men who should keep quiet in church.
-----But of course school can not happen at church. Church is busy buying the world’s iron-pyrite of all the inclusive affirmation of anybody and their ideas except the old, dead, white guys who started this “stinking country” and anyone else who thinks the Bible means what it says. The Bible’s straight-forwardness breaches all the pandering it takes to amass big congregations. And worse than that, around Presbyterian churches it seems like there is a fear that any bit of knowledge someone other than the “chosen few” might express will crumble the wondrous harmony of love holding the church together. And that’s not a Presbyterian thing exclusively. I think it is a human thing. Good place for it! in the church. Seems we have a choice of learning something and further splintering the church over disagreements about what we’ve learned, or all hold tightly into one big, loving, stupid clump. I would like some ground between the two where we could have a bit of real school on Sundays. “And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.” Eph 4:11-16)

Love you all,
Steve Corey