Sunday, January 21, 2007


Anne Robertson (if you're not listening to her podcasts, you should be) says in one of her sermons that there's a big difference between knowing all about someone--his likes and dislikes, his social security number, the make and model of his car--and knowing him, the way his wife does, the way his best friend does, the way his father does. You can know all the facts, but still not know someone. It's like that with God.

JC told me that, when he was a kid, he knew the Bible inside and out. He seriously had God's dossier. It wasn't until later that he started to deal with the relationship side, the less tangible side, of his Christian walk. I'm much the same way. So are a lot of my friends in the church. Even knowing that my own intellectual cynicism is a stumbling block, I still fall over it all the time. These nice bright brains that God gave us can get in the way!

The kids in our class don't really know that much about God. They don't know the Bible well at all. I would say, though, that they have a strong sense of faith. Not knowing the Bible is not keeping them from knowing God. I used to think that wasn't possible, but I've met too many people whose relationship with God is the kind I would aspire to. Alot of them can't quote the Bible, don't know the stories, haven't even read all of it.

The dossier is what keeps you in touch when the relationship is in a low point. This happens in all relationships. It happens to most people in their relationship with God. At least, I suppose it does. If not, my friends and I are in a poor state, where our Christianity is concerned. The relationship, though-- that love and warmth and interaction--is what keeps you reaching out.

I would argue that we need the dossier and the real knowledge. I don't even think one is worth more than the other. I just think that they are each incomplete, individually.

And what does this have to do with Sunday school? Glad you asked. The Sunday school curricula I've looked at so far (which is by no means comprehensive) works on neither of these things. What these curricula are designed to do is to get kids to say they have a great relationship with Jesus. They aren't very good at the dossier part (actual Bible knowledge). They also fail in helping kids develop real faith. They don't ask any hard questions. Some questions can't be answered by "talking church." Those are the really good questions. We need more of those in Sunday school--specifically in our Sunday school. We've been slacking in the tough questions department. But then, we're not a company taking millions of dollars annually for providing educational materials to churches. We've got some leeway there.

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