We had a visitor during our Sunday School class yesterday. It made things more interesting in some ways. It also gave birth to this new post.
C, our visitor, is an American missionary kid who spent most of his life in the Philippines. Having lived in both countries, I was really curious to see the difference between a Caucasian kid who grew up in my home country and my Filipino students who grew up in C’s home country.
Maybe it was the cereal I brought, but my students were all hyper that morning. They couldn’t sit still and kept jumping from one topic to the other. I asked them if they had Spring fever but they couldn’t focus long enough to answer my question.
Now, I don’t mean to run my regular students down. I love each one of them and they always manage to make me laugh. They’re really good kids and most times, we have a great time during class. That morning, as well, their interaction was mostly amusing. If we weren’t trying to get through a lesson, I would have just sat there and enjoyed getting to know them all a bit more.
But we had a story to tell and a lesson to learn. And my students, bless their hearts, had to rein things in and pay attention. It was a struggle, but we were able to do it. Or part of it.
I’m thinking, isn’t it true that when we are forced to look at familiar things against something new, the contrast make us see things differently? We notice the ways in which we could have failed or taken things for granted. So it was that morning that I noticed two things:
First – While C talked about what he liked in the Philippines (he even said Baguio was his dream place to live in), my students either have never visited their parents’ home country, do not remember much, or remember only the unpleasant things like cockroaches and the humidity.
Second – While C–a kid who spends a lot of his time talking about his faith–was interested in our lesson, I had to keep calling my students’ attention away from their favorite video games or plans for Spring break.
I couldn’t do much about the first one except include positive stories about home in my discussions. But as for the second one, I left class yesterday feeling like I could so do a much better job teaching. I was reminded that although I only have my students for an hour each week, if I really see myself as accountable to God, I should know to do everything I can to help my students focus on the lesson and learn as much as they can.
At this point as well, I started thinking about my own sons. Every Sunday at church, hubby and I have our own responsibilities to fulfill. At times, I feel like I may be neglecting my own children’s appreciation of the Lord’s Day. Like most parents, I mostly choose to entrust their Sunday learning to their Sunday School teachers, hoping that they pick up something they can chew on for the rest of the week. But really, I know better.
My children’s spiritual formation starts at home. It is neglect and laziness on my part to assume others will take care of this for me. Even if it’s just for an hour on Sunday. After all, I always stay on top of things when it comes to their academic performance.
In some ways, hubby and I try to find ways to do things better.
For example, we listen to sermons during our drive to church each Sunday. It’s not just another chance for us to hear from God, it’s also an opportunity to have our kids listen–they’re a captive audience in the backseat. We pick preachers that the kids like–Mark Driscoll, Lon Solomon, Alistair Begg and Francis Chan. It’s another shot in our hopefully growing arsenal of ways to teach our children about our faith.
They also have “Daddy Time” which is when they read stories from the Bible and talk about how it relates to them. Sometimes I’m not sure I know how they transition from a Bible story to Star Wars, but I’ve chosen to trust my hubby to stay on top of things.
Teaching our kids that our faith is not about following a prescribed set of rules is important. Teaching them that God’s word is for every day is vital. Both of these will determine where they’ll be spending their Sundays once they leave home.
As a mother (and a Sunday School teacher) I need my kids to see that church is not about going through the motions, suffering through the sermon and then being free to do what they want the rest of the day. Nor is it an obligation they must fulfill before they can fully enjoy the rest of the week.
Church should be an outflow of their week, the Sunday worship service should be a highlight of a week of constant communication with God.
I’m glad God brought C to our class yesterday. And I told both of them so.