Alright...revolutionary...revelatory...hmmm.... Maybe I'm not revolutionary or revelatory...but reactionary...INDEED!
One year ago our church decided that it would move Sunday school to 9 a.m. and church would begin at 10 a.m. This gives 50 minutes for Sunday School, 5 minutes for talking, and ample time after church for fellowship, potlucks and the like. A church that makes this kind of decision shows that it's thinking harder about it's Sunday School Ministry and about discipling it's members and attendees. A church that makes that kind of decision shows that it's willing to do what it needs to despite "how it's always been done." Well...last week they decided to change it back to the old way, the way that gives adults 40 minutes or less (depending on how long Pastor Jim goes). But it's more than that--if you really watched the process you'dve noticed that Sunday School was better attended before the service. You would have noticed that we had a full hour to do the Sunday School. You would have noticed that special time was given to the education of adults instead of the arbitrary timing of life after church (should I go to Sunday School, wait for Potluck, go home, go out for coffee...?), and you would have noticed that a potluck or special event after church was a lot easier to manage, and better attended when Sunday School did not interfere.
The council did a survey asking the congregants which schedule they liked the best. 7 to 1 answered that they preferred Sunday School after the service. A full 6 to 1 of those people did not attend Sunday School before...what do they care? And how can you get an accurate survey result when you haven't first dedicated research to attendance percentages, the Sunday School Schedule, the classes offered, and the tools available to teach adult Sunday School?
I shows me that our council acts out of fear and timidity, not from strength and power. It tells me that, though they are mere men and sinners, that they have not put as much thought into their office and the importance of it as they should. The officers of the church must be dedicated to the Spiritual, Mental, Physical, and Fiscal health of a congregation. Let's take the Spiritual Category for now...in the new-old scenario, we have less time, more family obligations, a greater sense of freedom to leave the building, more noise, less room, more hunger (for food, not scripture), more thirst (for Coffee not Christ), and less desire (tired of sitting). Does this sound like a decision that has benefited the Spiritual Health of the Church? I could go into the other categories, but I won't. The bottom line is, a congregation has to be led into Ministry, not have it taken away from them.
But lastly, is the Spiritual nature of a congregation a democratic process? We voted 7 to 1 to make it worse than it was and we voted that way because 1, we never attend Sunday School, 2 we don't really care either way, 3) we've never had the other way and didn't have enough time to observe the new way, 4), we didn't have much of an Adult Program anyway before or after church, and 5) The benefits of the new way were not spelled out for us before the new change occurred last year and the congregation gets a little shellshocked with change unless it's thoroughly explained to them. Does this sound like a Council who is thinking through their actions? Does it sound like they are fervently praying about their charge? Does it look like they gave the issue plenty of discussion and time? So, because they didn't want to have to figure it all out, they asked us...and 7 to 1 of us wanted it the way it always has been...because we don't know any better. I love this Philosophy really. I can't wait to hear their answer as to whether or not they would be affected if 7 to 1 of us wanted to change to Adult Baptism only. We barely know our own theology anymore. I can't wait to hear their answer as to whether or not they would change if 7 to 1 of us prefer not to sing Praise Songs anymore, or 7 to 1 prefer to get rid of Cadets, or 7 to 1 of us prefer to only allow soup and salad on Potluck day. I'm being ridiculous, but there's something wrong with the method used in this instance in my congregation.
Let me note that if my church provides ample and interesting options (several of them) to be educated and taught in Adult Sunday School after church, life would be better for us. I don't want to make the mistake of saying that Sunday School after church has put is in complete and total disarray. However, I'm quite disappointed, and do believe we haven't made it better.