The Accumulation of Sunday School Neglect, Part 1

Monday 6th July, 2009

BUILD UP TO THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR.  What caused the war? It could simply be termed "salutary neglect." Once the American colonies were established, the British government largely left them alone. Though each had royal governors, the colonial-elected assemblies were frequently more active in governing. During this period, Britain was preoccupied with becoming THE world power through amassing as much territory as possible. The year 1763 saw the end of the French and Indian War. That same year the British reversed paths on salutary neglect with a shift toward "protecting" the colonists. Parliament determined that Americans should start paying some of the cost. The problem was that the period of neglect had allowed Americans to create their own identity. The colonists did not mind the relationship with Britain, but they considered it to be impractical, inefficient, illogical, and bordering on immoral that they should be governed from so far away by people who had no concept of what it meant to be American.

SUNDAY SCHOOL NEGLECT. Sunday School today is experiencing the same problem as those early American colonists: neglect. Sunday School has been neglected for so long that it can be painful when needed change is pursued. Bad practices have become bad habits. Comfort is more important than mission and purpose. And time and money are invested sparingly and primarily on self.

In addition to these, there are a number of significant areas where Sunday School has been neglected. First and foremost, leaders and members alike are in spiritual growth survival-mode having neglected their own personal relationship with God which gives purpose and direction to lives and Sunday School. In addition, pastors, Sunday School directors, and teachers have allowed busyness and distractions to cause a neglect in leading the Sunday School. As a result most Sunday Schools today are organized for survival rather than for care and growth.

Hundreds have neglected planning and are suffering the consequences. It has been years since they evaluated or pursued any goals. Few Sunday Schools are looking outward. They are blinded to needs all around them—most importantly the need for Jesus. On top of that, the back door is wide open; Sunday School members are dropping out without being noticed or cared for. Then when they drop out, they are no longer available to help with the harvest. Lessons are thrown together at the last minute out of necessity or responsibility rather than from a deep encounter with a living God. And lessons are taught in the same old way without passion, involvement, or life-change.

With Sunday School in such a neglected state, it is no wonder that growth and multiplication of the Sunday School has also been neglected. Why would anyone want to launch new leaders and groups when the ones they already have are so poor. Multiplication of leaders is impacted by yet another area of Sunday School neglect: training. Expectations are so low that no training is offered for fear of losing one more needed worker.

In this multi-part series, I will tackle these issues of neglect one at a time. In the meantime, evaluate your Sunday School. What signs of neglect do you see? What can you do to turn area those areas? Tackle one at a time until your Sunday School has moved from neglected to revolutionary. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about moving toward revolutionary Sunday School, check out these blog posts:

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