Since I started writing For the Journey Sunday School literature, one of my most frequently asked questions has been, “Do you do children’s lit?” I always pretty much dismissed that question. Not enough time. Too many jobs. Too busy. And, being honest, the thought of children’s lit seemed rather daunting to me. I’m not opposed to hard work, but I just wasn’t sure I was up to it—crafts, illustrations, activities…yikes! Gradually, the Lord began to work on my heart and convince me that I really needed the reason I didn’t offer children’s literature to be because I tried it and realized I simply couldn’t do it, not because I never made time to even try, and more importantly not because I didn’t believe God could help me do it. So, I found myself sitting at the newspaper on a Tuesday several weeks back trying to do my part of getting the paper ready, and all I could think about was ideas for children’s Sunday School lessons. I went home that night to write my first, excluding some practice attempts in the past that really never need to see the light of day.
Now, For the Journey For Kids is far from ready, so far from ready in fact that there’s still no timeline on that. It’s definitely been an adventure so far, though, and I’m learning a lot. As I’ve been working to prepare it, there’s no telling how many times I’ve caught myself thinking, “A lot’s going to depend on the teacher.” I thought I had learned that in writing for adults and then also writing some for teens, but as I’ve worked on children’s literature, that fact has become even more evident.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to my boss at the store about what I was up to, and she, too, mentioned that a lot will depend on the teacher. Later she brought me the book Faith, Hope and Hilarity by Dick Van Dyke, which she thought I might enjoy reading. I started it today and came across the following quote:
“Teaching Sunday School is one of the most important jobs there is, because it’s training for life itself—yet we almost always turn it over to part-time volunteers. We ask these good people to inspire our children, and to answer questions in class that would make a doctor of divinity tear at his beard. But, often the only help many teachers get is a handful of lesson leaflets about Bible stories.”
I instantly fell in love with that quote because I’m passionate about Sunday School and believe churches should choose Sunday School teachers who are both called and qualified to be Sunday School teachers, instead of sticking just anybody in those positions. I truly believe Sunday School is often where the church either gives kids the foundation they need to have the kind of faith that will see them through the ups and downs of life, or it’s where the church, in failing to do so, loses them as soon as Mom and Dad can’t force them to attend anymore. That’s why, in writing lessons, whether for adults, teens, or kids, I try to make them applicable to their everyday lives in the real world. I try to emphasize the relevance of the Word. But, even if I’ve done my job to write something that’s more than “a handful of lesson leaflets about Bible stories,” if the teacher goes into class having only looked over it for about five minutes, if at all, if she hasn’t prayed about it and put some effort in, if her job as a Sunday School teacher isn’t close to her heart and doesn’t evoke her passion, the lesson won’t accomplish nearly as much as it could. It’s the teacher who’s responsible for bringing the lesson to life.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Okay, but I’m not a Sunday School teacher,” well, are you a mom or a dad (or do you hope to be someday)? Because your kids could have the best Sunday School teacher in the world, but if what they learn from him or her isn’t reinforced in what they see in the way you live before them, there’s a good chance their foundation won’t be very strong. It takes the church and the family working together as God designed them to be to produce adults who are both strong and knowledgeable in the faith and in God’s Word. And, if you were blessed to have that combination growing up, then today’s a very good day to be grateful for that (not that there’s ever a bad day).