The Sunday School that wasn’t meant to be

CHURCH LIFE/ENGLISH Once back in the nineties I was heading up a Sunday School for kids in my local church. It wasn’t going to last but despite the obstacles I instead ended up in mission around the globe.

Once back in the nineties I was heading up a Sunday School for kids in my local church. I recruited a considerable team of volunteers and we started out with prayer and intercession for an extended time before launching the new Sunday Night School Children’s Ministry.

Church had always had a Sunday School on Sunday mornings but the old man in charge had just retired. Besides, almost no kids attended anymore. Church’s main service was on Sunday nights.

Now, heading into our first season there was some opposition from people who thought we should go on doing what church had always done. Sunday School was for Sunday mornings. Kids or no kids.

We still finally managed to get a hesitant thumbs up for Sunday nights and even more people started coming to the main service. They dropped their kids off with us and continued upstairs for an uninterrupted service.

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HOWEVER, THINGS DIDN’T FARE WELL for long before we received a serious complaint. The parents of two kids maintained that one of my co-workers had been teaching a ghost story instead of the Bible and now they were too scared to go to sleep. The parents didn’t know how to calm them down at bedtime. The ghost in question? Yes, you guessed it. The Holy Ghost.

(For readers making out the point that we’re Norwegian speakers in Norway, you’re of course right. The parents in question apparently had claimed that my co-worker literally taught about ‘Den hemmelige ånd’—The Secret Ghost—not ‘Den hellige ånd’—The Holy Ghost. The kids opined that such a ghost was quite scary. Besides, the parents apparently didn’t know how or want to explain some Biblical facts to their children. In my opinion, the kids probably had heard about The Holy Ghost for the first time in Sunday School and got confused.)

One of the elders called me on behalf of the Board and demanded a correction. I, however, defended my co-worker. The Holy Ghost being quite central to the Bible meant that we should not be blamed for parents choosing to let their kids grow up on ghost stories, thus getting scared and misunderstanding The Holy Ghost, mistaking Him for some secret genie. The particular elder charged with bringing the matter to my attention, however, begged to disagree and wanted me to seriously consider how I might have erred in my ways. My co-worker also would have to leave so that the parents didn’t. I reneged. My co-worker should stay. Well, the elder said, then I would have to go, too.

Story made short, we both left. Shortly after the rest of the Sunday School team also had quit. It certainly did not help that we were bring called names and accused of abandoning our ministry.

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SUNDAY SCHOOL DID NOT immediately pick up again afterwards, as no new teacher dared apply. The elders apparently were too scary. It took a couple of years before Sunday School was fully back up and running and then, they indeed had to settle for Sunday nights. People were not going to bring their children in on Sunday mornings and come back for main service in the early evening.

Children’s Praise and Ministry, however, was forever off the table in that church and Sunday School went back to caretaking, playhouse and colouring books.

I myself, instead of being benched for the immediate future, left church shortly after this incident in order to help out with a church plant in the neighbouring town. I spent the next three years doing that while also attending seminary and obtaining a bachelors degree in theology (which I again extended later). Shortly after completing my degree wifey and I left to take up missionary work in Colombia.

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ANY MORAL TO THIS STORY? Not so much. But, if people stand in the way of the ministry you’re called to conduct you’d better find a way to bypass them. The Kingdom of God is always in short supply of workers so you shouldn’t have to be stuck in storage until a ripe old age just because someone says so. The first disciples started witnessing on the very same day of their conversion (see John 1:40-42). So had I done, back in the early eighties.

«The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.»
—Jesus to the disciples (Luke 10:2).

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