Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids? A Book Review
Samuel Williamson is tired of children's Sunday school done the same old way. His weary feelings about Sunday school have little to do with styles, format or even space--they stem from what Williamson describes as a general neglect of the Gospel in favor or Moralism.
And he has a point.
First of all, Williamson believes that having good morals is important, but it's not more important than the Good News that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and offer them the chance for eternal life--life that begins here and now. He asserts that from the earliest ages, Christians are taught that if they are simply good, obey, and do what is right that they will be happy, healthy and wise--and that God will be pleased with them. He cites the simplified stories that are often taught in Sunday school as evidence: stories about heroes such as David, Esther, Jonah, Daniel and the like.
But, according to Williamson, by simplifying the stories we find in the Bible and turning them into mere morality tales, we diminish the very essence of the Gospel and create Christians who have a distorted sense of grace. No wonder, Williamson believes, young people are leaving the Church in droves. They discover fairly quickly as they grow older that "being good" is harder than it looks, and doesn't always result in happiness and fulfillment.
The cure, Williamson asserts, is for us to acknowledge our brokenness, own up to our frailty and to look through wide open eyes at the stories we find in the Bible. The heroes we revere were often the most messed up, broken people around--a fact that should give us hope. And it is only through the unbelievable, expansive and irresistible grace of God that we are able to be redeemed, reformed and remade.
However, preaching a message of grace, rather than morality does not open the door for us to do as we please, Williamson clarifies. In the end, it is our self-centeredness that drives us to either complete depravity or severe fundamentalism. He cites the angry, homophobic and confrontational "Christians" of the Westboro Baptist Church as an example of the latter. These images of self-centeredness, Williamson states, should act as a mirror for us--a reflection of what we could become if not for grace.
In the end, Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids? is not really a book about how to change your Sunday school. In fact after the first couple of chapters, Sunday school doesn't really factor into his argument all that much. So, if you are looking for a practical book on how to transform your approach to Christian education for children, this isn't it. But if you are looking for something a bit more theoretical that addresses the issues at the core of the generational Exodus from the church by Millenials... read away.
I recommend this book for pastors, church leaders, Christian educators, parents and anyone who might be looking for a new way forward in the Church.