Posted by secondchurch on January - 4 - 2018


“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
On behalf of the Second Church, I wish you a happy and blessed New Year!

Hopefully by now you have read and heard that we are preparing a “reboot” to faith formation at the church. Here are a few reasons:

It is widely acknowledged that the Sunday School movement has run its course in most places throughout the US. There was no such thing Sunday School prior to the 1850s. Ever since then, the family’s vocation of teaching children about the Bible and nurturing their faith has been relinquished to Sunday School teachers – for one hour a week or however often a family attends church. With more erratic church attendance in the modern era, children hear very little about faith and almost nothing about the Bible. Our hope is to make worship more compelling for families so that all engage the faith together.  

Teaching faith is almost impossible in a classroom setting. I can talk about Noah’s Ark until I exhaust the story. I can have countless activities to illustrate the story and have children act out scenes from the biblical narrative. But until the children see, hear, and experience someone trusting in God’s promise to always be faithful, which is the main takeaway from the story of Noah’s Ark, the lesson will be nothing more than a confusing story that has less impact than a memorable nursery rhyme.

Faith is not taught, but rather caught. By that I mean that the tenets of our faith may be found in scripture, but they are actually based on values and morals such as justice, compassion, neighbor love, awe and wonder, reconciliation, and more. Those ideals have to be demonstrated by adults before children can understand them. You can tell a child that it’s good to share with others, but until they are deprived of something they need or want or until they can see the joy and fulfillment of someone receiving a gift, the lesson is hollow. We can do some of that in worship through object lessons. And we can jump start a conversation in worship that can be carried over to the home place … which brings me to my next point.

We want to plant seeds in worship for family discussions so that the lessons of Sunday morning carry over to the Sunday dinner table, the after school lessons, and bedtime prayers. Having children and adults separate on Sunday morning makes that ongoing dialogue less likely to occur. It’s more probable that Mom will say to Johnny on Tuesday afternoon: “Remember what Pastor Mark was talking about on Sunday?” if Johnny and Mom hear the story and lesson together.    

We have had no children attend Sunday School classes about half the weeks this program year. Some weeks we have over a dozen. And for those who attended Christmas Eve you may have been surprised that there were many more than that. The days of families attending worship together every week is almost nonexistent. We need to use staff and volunteer hours more productively than preparing lessons, buying supplies, and setting up classroom space only to dismantle it all and try to get credit for the supplies or throw them away.

In the coming weeks, we will provide links to what some other churches are doing and a bibliography for those who want to read more about the changing landscape of faith formation in churches. It should be noted that the changes we are experiencing are not isolated to Second Church. The church across the world is changing more rapidly than most can comprehend or to which they can respond.

Our plan is to talk more about faith formation during worship the next three weeks and then to roll out and bless the “Pray ground” and a different worship style on January 28. This is an experiment, probably one in a series until we feel we get it right. If you have questions or concerns between now and the implementation, please speak with Leah or me and we will be happy to talk with you, pray with you, or whatever is helpful.

We are both excited to be doing a new thing to build up the ministry of the church and to deepen the life of faith for the beloved Second Church community!   

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