What’s Wrong With Church 10: Sunday School Syndrome


“My child would never use those words!” she insisted with self-righteous indignation. “He’s gone to church all of his life!”

Can you imagine my reaction when this lady sputters these words in my direction?

I grew up in church. So did my brothers. We were cussing like sailors for years before my parents ever caught wind of it. In fact, we were doing a lot of things we shouldn’t have been doing. Like a lot of parents, they presumed that church will somehow fix everything. That Sunday School attendance somehow guarantees good Christian character. It doesn’t.

News Flash! Real Christian character is impossible apart from Christ. Apart from salvation, they can only imitate Christian character. The problem becomes that they get it into their head that Christianity is about conforming to an [impossible] ideal or a set of rules, conduct and dress. Taste not, touch not, handle not. Observing sabbaths, feasts and washing of hands.

This is not to say that we don’t need to teach our children God’s commandments. In fact, we dare not do otherwise, whether they be saved or not!

“18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

 19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

 20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:

 21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;

 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:

 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.”

— Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28

We dare not presume that simply because they’re going to church, everything is alright. In other words, we dare not abdicate our personal responsibility as parents to teach our children about God – NOT EVEN TO THE CHURCH!

The local church will be held accountable for what it teaches on Judgment Day. Parents will be held accountable for both what and whether they taught their children! Parents will not be able to excuse their abdication of resposibility by saying that they fulfilled their duty to teach God’s commandments by taking their children to Sunday School. Even if they’re not teaching your children bunk like God could’ve used evolution to create the world, even if everything they teach is perfectlt Biblical and correct, well, God has told parents to do so. If this were the case, that the church has taught your children faithfully, it would not excuse you for your own personal lack of contribution.

The passage here refers to something we now call indoctrination. I know, I know. Such a dirty word! Unless of course it’s the liberals doing it, right?

Indocrination is not a bad thing. In fact, as I alluded to, those who object to indoctrination only do so because they suspect that what we’re indoctrinating our children to believe is bunk. They, in practice, have no problem with indoctrinating our children to believe as they do, which they believe is correct! Remember: When someone objects to indoctrination as “infringing on the rights of the child,” they have never intended that your child shall grow up  in a vaccuum! They intend to “educate” our children “properly,” which is only to say to indoctrinate them to believe what they think is right instead of what we think is right.

If it pleases the reader, I shall not speak further of indoctrination or eduction. The former word is loaded with misunderstanding and negative connotation, while the latter is misleading in that it evokes visions of didactic classroom settings and formal curriculum. Instead, let us take the context of the passage cited and speak of immersion. [My Baptist readers should appreciate this one.]

Look at the passage. It speaks of having the Word of God ever-present in the child’s life. It also speaks of teaching them at pretty much every available opportunity. Is this one hour of Sunday School? Of course not! This is total immersion in an environment where the Word of God is completely and utterlu unavoidable!

I should add, as a homeschool dad, Is this environment possible when you send your children to pagan post-Christian public schools where the very mention of God, much less His Commandments is strictly forbidden, especially from the teachers? It might be possible to maintain this Word immersion in a Christian school environment, if done properly, but we must admit in all honesty that we cannot maintain this Word immersion in a public school setting! In fact, the pagan setting of public school is actually counter-productive, exerting a very different [liberal] influence on our child’s development.

Some practical ways to create a Word immersive environment:

  1. Read your Bible aloud in your children’s presence every day. You don’t have to read it to them, per se. Young children can simply be playing in the room as you read. Alternately, you may play the Bible on CD. I particularly enjoy listening to Darth Vader [James Earl Jones] reading the Scripture. My boys certainly get a kick out of this concept!
  2. Put up Scripture around the house. Frame it. Put posters on their walls. The world is full of great artwork illustrating Biblical themes and scenes.
  3. Music! What children sing becomes their liturgy. Find Scriptural songs, like Wee Sing! or what have you and play them. Let the carpet monkeys dance before the Lord! Persimmons and lemons have never been Fruit of the Spirit! You might also consider classical works like Handel or Mozart. But whether they listen to Skillet or Accapella, Handel or VeggieTunes, make sure the songs are Scripturally relevant and correct!
  4. Have them memorize Scripture. One little verse a month. You can do it. Besides, you might actually learn something yourself!
  5. Pray every day. What does this have to do with the Bible? It’s an example of following the commandments they’re reading about! It’s practical, simple, yet effective because it brings their hearts and minds to focus on talking to God! And make sure you’re children see YOU praying every day!
  6. Find creative moments to teach them about God and God’s commandments in your every day communication. [Of course, this requires you to have some idea what God’s Word says, so dig in!] It may seem forced at first, but with daily practice and prayer for wisdom and opportunity, you’ll start to find teachable moments becoming more and more apparent and more natural!
  7. Have a daily time of devotions [prayer requests, a Bible reading/lesson, a hymn, perhaps that memory verse you’re working on and prayer] besides these creative teaching moments. It doesn’t take as long as you think and you may just find yourself looking forward to it!   

However you do it, commit to it. Don’t give up! God is on your side on this one!

Don’t fall into Sunday School Syndrome. Take an active hand in the most important calling God has given you: being a parent!

–Sirius Knott

PS – If you have any additional ideas you’d like to pass along, post a comment!

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Neil says:

    Those are great tips. I’ve those well at times and not so well at others. Currently we go through a chapter a week with our high school daughters.

    The Bible teaches this as well: Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

    We should not just count on church to teach our kids.

    I grew up in church and didn’t pay attention at all. We went to church camp and did all sorts of bad things.

  2. Rev. Marcus says:

    Yes, it’s all about daily exposure. As parents, control what your kids are exposed to as much as you can. It’s your job! That includes their music, MP3s, TV, internet, etc.

    My 3-year-old walks around singing his version of “Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. Holy holy holy” and dances around with his arms raised.

  3. melike3 says:

    maybe another suggestion would be a weekly bible study. Doing anything from acting out a bible account, measuring out Noah’s ark, an in depth study on one character, or how to apply certain lessons in our daily lives. All kinds of things can be done, and when it is age appropriate and fun kids will look forward to it and learn more.

    1. That was actually one of the suggestions I offered, but thank you for elaborating.

      -revTony

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