Robert J. Weiss III

Thursday April 29,2004
Introduction to Christian Education
Midterm Paper
Rev. Norman Shaw
In the Book 10 Best Practices to make Your Sunday School Grow the
Authors, Ken Hemphill and Bill Taylor Offer Ten Examples of tried methods
of Growing a Working Sunday School. I wish to take an opposing viewpoint
and offer to you three reasons why one of these best practices has not
worked in my past experience. I play the devil’s advocate here. I do hope
there is little dislike of me afterward. In Chapter 2 the Authors head
their Second Practice as Organize with Purpose. I will offer now three
reasons why the content of this chapter not only does not work in all
situations, but rather, fails in most.

I have been in the Church of the Nazarene for 27 years that I can
remember. (There have actually been 31, but you’ll forgive my lack of
memory prior to age 4.) My Father was, at the time, an Ordained Elder in
the Church of the Nazarene on the New England District as an assistant
Pastor at the Hopedale Church of the Nazarene under Rev. John Newell. They
began the arduous task of rebuilding a congregation whose attendance had
fallen to the brink of non-existence. There they instituted all of the
freshly learned theological training given them by the excellent educators
at Eastern Nazarene College. Including newer concepts at the time of how
to build and grow a Sunday School. To the best of my recollection the
Ordering of the classes here was completely ineffectual. There were too
few interested people, too few classrooms, and too few workers. The Sunday
School was my sister and myself. There were no adults who wanted to be
involved in Sunday School as students. Here lies my first argument with
our distinguished Authors. Their plan may work in a functioning but
diminishing Sunday School that simply needs new life, but in a situation as
described above, it becomes a fruitless endeavor. The Harvest is
plentiful, but the workers are few is a truth, but there can be no
harvesters if there is no harvest to bring in.

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As I grew older and began to realize there was a call on my own life,
and I began to rebel against God’s Plans for me I fought against the
constraints of an ordered Sunday School. Here I was in High School, Trying
to find myself in this world and in God and was placed in Classes with
others my age who were not of the same ilk as I. (i.e. a Pastor’s Kid.)
We clashed. Bitterly. The others did not possess any sort of Education in
the Church, and those that did were newly educated, and had only a partial
view of a very big Picture. As if viewed through a pinhole in a shoebox.

Here lies my second disagreement with the goodly gentlemen Authors. A
structured Sunday School does no good if those being structured shouldn’t
be housed within the same framework as others. It is on the level of
putting High School Seniors in classes with 6th Graders. The younger
students have the basic grasp of what they are going to need to continue
their education, but do not possess the additional information needed to
finish the tasks set before them in a proper manner. Mathematic Principles
are necessary to perform complicated Calculus functions, but simply having
the basic principles in hand does not make them able to perform the
Calculus. On the contrary, this seems to bring about greater confusion and
inability to perform them.

Now that I have finally stopped running from the Lord’s call on my
life and have accepted the new direction He has pointed me in, I find
myself in a situation much more in tune with what Mr. Hemphill and Mr.

Taylor are trying to get across. I attend The Church of the Nazarene where
I am a Member and a Locally licensed Minister. There the Sunday School has
indeed shrunk, but it has also grown. Please, allow me to explain. Though
the numbers of attendees has dropped, the number of classes has increased
as people of the same learning and not just age are in classes with their
peers. This however has led to one other difficulty that is foreseen, but
not duly addressed in this book. We now have a class of know-it-alls who
have been in the church since the suns light first shone on the Earth, and
a class of empty vessels that we are filling to the best of our ability to
be the next leaders. The know-it-alls are the problem. They range in age
from late teenage to early seventies and they are just happy as clams to
possess what they already possess and don’t want to possess anymore. Now
that these folks have been properly arranged, where do we get the leaders
for the know-it-alls. They already know it all. At least they do if you
ask them and they’ll tell you they do. Our greatest teacher in the Church
is already committed to another class and well gifted for that class. The
flaw here is that the organization happened without the training. The
Church, as our Authors did, got ahead of itself.

Here, I have asked you to follow the negative side to the Second
Chapter of 10 Best Practices to make Your Sunday School Grow. You need not
agree with me, that is not my intent. Only to make you think about it.