Grace and peace from Our Lord Jesus Christ! For most of us, school begins this week and next! We are very excited! St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church has shifted into autumn mode and we are ready for what the year will bring.
This will be Year 2 of our Children’s Education initiative. This Sunday, Sunday School will begin at 9:15 and Children’s Church and Catechesis will begin at 10:30. This is part of a vision for St. Thomas’ children that I would like to discuss again with you here.
The Christian Church throughout the West is losing an alarming number of our youth when they reach college or otherwise go out on their own. They are walking away from the Faith on a large scale when they hear Christianity questioned…even when questioned in a respectful way (all the more frequently, they encounter hostility and pressure from professors and peers). This is not the fault of the ones raising the objections. Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis: Why are we surprised when people raise objections and non-believers say non-believing things?
Our 39 Articles define the church as a place where “the pure Word of God is preached and the Sacraments are duly administered.” Word and Sacrament make us a church and Christian education follows from that foundation. What is the Gospel and why does it matter? The Gospel is as simple as the simplest person and infinitely more deep and profound than the most educated and insightful person. It speaks to the most sublime joys and the darkest despair with the greatest of hope… a hope that is true.
How does this fit into our children’s ministry? During the hour between 9:15 and 10:15, we can help form that understanding of the Word of God with thorough and powerful Bible study. Our children will learn to place the Triune God, rather than themselves, at the center of Scripture through regular study and hearing. After going through our curriculum, they will have solid biblical footing and the ability to locate Christ at its center.
The curriculum for our children is Tru Story. You will notice in these curricula an interest in including families in the education of their children and an ease by which this can take place. Tru Story is well thought-out and provides deep resources for both the teacher and parent (even an app!). It trains the teacher on the point of the lesson, provides suggestions for activities, and aids in the management of time. So many Sunday School curricula can be intimidating due to a lack of guidance. This is not so with Tru Story!
The children’s worship part of Sunday will begin at 10:30 in The Ingram Room (with an Ante-Communion service). At this time, they will learn about the movement and meaning of Anglican worship, hear from the Bible once again, and memorize the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments, and Apostles’ Creed (goals for catechesis). They will then enter a time of catechesis (which simply means the teaching of the Church). It is my goal that our children thoroughly understand the Faith by the time they reach Confirmation class.
What can you do? Pray and think about what we are doing here. If it strikes a chord, please do consider helping us with this endeavor. Consider teaching one of these classes. I would like to have classes that are as close together developmentally as possible. Consider also volunteering for the Children’s Church portion during the 10:30 service, if you don’t feel called to teach at the 9:15 time.
We can do this… if you see its value and help it to succeed. Will it require getting up a little earlier to participate? Yes. Is that a pain with little children and adolescents who want to sleep? You bet it is. The payoff will be high school graduates who either go to college or work with a firm grasp of the Gospel and confidence in its veracity, intellectual coherence, spiritual ballast, and profundity. That is priceless. It is a delayed gratification that involves a lot of work but it is one of eternal significance. Please pray about this and consider participating.
In His Grace,