Thursday, July 30, 2009

Adult Sunday School

I'm on a roll this week, aren't I?

I’ve been posting on our visits to different churches, and wanted to elaborate on a comment I made earlier this week. It’s a simple question, really. Why do adult Sunday School organizers assume that ‘same-gender, same-age’ groups make the most sense for adults? I can buy that for children, maybe, but adults?

I am a married 40-ish woman, without kids. I’m nerdy and intellectual. So I don’t necessarily have the same interests as other married 40-ish women. I am not a fan of Beth Moore Bible studies. I don’t really want to talk about “bringing God to your children.” I’d rather study some of the works by Augustine, or the Church fathers, or heck, even C.S. Lewis. If it’s a Bible Study I want something that gets to the meat of the texts, not just the poofy parts. But when you can actually FIND a class that offers those, it’s usually a men’s group. So I am decidedly un-inclined to go to any Sunday school class at all.

I’ve heard of ONE church (several states away) that has a great way to do Sunday School. Teachers pick the topic, then anyone who is interested in that topic can join. That’s the only restriction… you have to actually be INTERESTED in the TOPIC. This runs for three months. Then the groups disband, a new list of classes is announced, and off you go! Amazing. And you still meet folks and make friends. If you attend the classes that are typically nerdy and intellectual, then who else do you think will attend the class? Yup – other folks who are nerdy and intellectual! If you like Beth Moore, and you go to the classes that offer Beth Moore, you meet other women who like Beth Moore.

Brilliant!

So for those of y’all out there who are Sunday school planners for your churches, think about it. Are you really helping by enforcing age and gender parameters on your adult classes?

3 comments:

the Joneses said...

I've always been a Very Bad Bible Study Member, because I don't do my book and I nitpick the lessons. If only I could take a women's Bible study on, like, ancient and current heresies! Instead of one Bible study I took, which asked questions like, "Imagine you live in Jericho. What would you feel when you heard the Israelites are approaching?" (That's an actual question from an actual book. Not that I actually DID the book.)

By topic is a great idea -- even if you still want to have separate men's and women's studies (which I do see value in).

-- SJ

Blondie said...

The church that hosts our homeschool group, Crossroads Fellowship, does SS the way you described. We really liked the church but it was a great distance from our house (driving there 2-3 times a week, every week, is much different than once a week for 16 weeks out of the year).

I've never been in an all-female SS class. In our previous church, we had a couples class that started when we were young and first married (there were only four couples). We all just aged together rather than aging out of the class (in our heyday, we had almost 30 couples).

In our current church, SS is for children and the adults participate in weekly, in-home small groups. Our small group is very atypical (out of four couples, we attend three different churches). We are also a mix in what we prefer to study. I am an application girl - arguing over whether a word was this or that in the original Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic does not affect my salvation. There are others in our group that will argue over that issue for hours (that's usually when I start zoning).

Ugh - another topic on which I could talk for hours...actually rant, but that's for another day...

Zana said...

Blondie, I guess that's what I mean. When you get a mix of people - by whatever arrangement - if they don't prefer to study the same way then someone's always going to be bored. (Now, if you're all already really good friends that's another thing entirely.)

But - when you are looking to Get Connected - isn't there some way that folks can, I dunno, "self-differentiate" so they can get into a class where interests and methods are similar? Of course, this can only work if your church is large enough to support a wide range of Sunday school/small groups.

SJ, EXACTLY. And I don't have issue with gender separated groups, as long as those aren't the ONLY choices. My frustration is that most of the womens' groups of my age range *like* the question, "What would you feel when you heard the Israelites are approaching?" ::snort:: It would, unfortunately, simply serve to make *me* completely insane. ::heh::