Sunday, January 30, 2005

As per my wife's verbal bludgeonings (a word that made its appearance in Mr. Gugg's reading of the Synaxarion a few days ago), I am starting a blog. Topic #1: Church school (a.k.a. Sunday school). I have been helping teach eighth grade at a local church for about five months now. Every time I feel like I am making some headway in having the students listen and understand, I seem to be swiftly brought back to reality. Today, no one showed up.

Last time we had class, I was told that some parents just bring them to Sunday school (and not to the Liturgy) if they bring them at all. I also realized from comments made during a pretty interesting discussion, that they have little knowledge of what is going on in church. Thus, the dilemma: I can prepare, I can try to find out how to make them see the meaning that Christianity can have in their lives, I can ask for input, I can even make brownies (rather, my wife can make them, since she loves that). But if I can't get them there, how can I interact with them? I volunteered to coach a basketball team in order to have a chance to interact with them more often, but the team I ended up coaching has no one from the class. Thus, the questions...

How can I take this up with the parish priest? What are the questions to ask in order to try and find a solution to the problem without sounding accusatory?

Am I, a seminarian, in a position to try and talk to their parents?

Any suggestions?


Blogger Pamela Goodwin-Daniels said...

I am a christian, (nondenominational), and a parent, (of three adult children), and I worked with teenagers (at a group home) for seven years. Before that I worked at a bowling alley play room, (ages 10 months to 8 years old), an elementary school (grades, kindergarten to sixth), and had a day care (licensed), with my sister-in-law. Now, I have five grandchildren. Just so that you know, I love kids. There are scary things going on in the world today, even in the church, you must agree. Yet, one thing that I know, kids need attention, not too much, but let them know that you are available. You know who to go to for advice, don't you? Your knees is a great place to start! HE knows all the answers. Yes, it is good to call the parents, get to know them, but do not push them with too many questions about why they do not attend services with their children, (many send their kids to church to have a bit of free time), which is okay. If they go to church at all, it is probably out of a genuine love for GOD, and not the programs. Be humane, if you can help a family in dire straits, do it, not for the rewards, but for the love you have for people through CHRIST. Do not shun the handicapped, many times, even churches do not offer to pick up and take home people who cannot otherwise make it to services. Our church had a bus to go out and pick up children whose parents would not, or could not take them to services. It is a blessing, and GOD blesses that ministry. I was a christian from childhood, yet, at twelve, with the death of my father, I stopped believing in GOD. It took many years for me to "wake-up", and see that it wasn't GOD'S pleasure to take a father of nine children. I had to read the bible myself, and study under many believers, and Pastors. Now, there is nothing that can convince me that the scripture: "All things work together for the good of them that love the LORD, and are the called, according to HIS purposes". is not true! I know many scriptures, but the biggest challange is to LIVE them. May GOD keep you in the palms of HIS hands, and sear Proverb 3:1-6, in your heart and mind. Amen.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Virgil Petrisor said...

Thank you for the advice. I do pray for my students - I think that is part of my call both as a seminarian and Church school teacher. I have also told them that my wife and I can pick them up if they would like to come to church but do not have the means to get there. So in those respects, I've done a little bit to try and improve the situation.

Now my dilemma is whether there is something I can do in concrete terms. Prayer is the greatest tool, but God also calls us to cooperate with Him and to do His work in the world. He told us that to whoever knocks, the door will be open (Lk 11:10), so it is our responsibility to take action and God will reply a manifold. The problem is that right now, I'm not quite sure what action to take.

There is one thing I didn't quite understand. You said "do not push them with too many questions about why they do not attend services with their children, (many send their kids to church to have a bit of free time), which is okay". I am not sure what you mean by that. Sending children to church without going seems to me somewhat hypocritical. The message that behavior sends is quite likely that going to church is not something adults do and, consequently, when they grow up, these children will not be very likely to attend church. If you simply meant that it's ok for parents to have some free time, that it something with which I agree.

In any case, thanks again for your thoughts

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about this? Ask the kids for their parents e-mail addresses, send the parents e-mail regarding the status of their kids and in the signature file of your e-mail to them, state the time of the liturgy and some useful links you deem important. Leave it at that and wait. Also, in terms of solving problems, I think Dr. G. Polya's text "How to Solve It" can be useful in many areas of life. The Bible, The Church Fathers, and some tips from Polya can provide whatever heuristic you need when coupled with prayer and love.

8:37 AM  

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