Why I Quit Sunday SchoolBlog / Produced by The High Calling
I joined the line of married men.
A line of black suits, white shirts, scuffed black shoes. The scuffed shoes, I mused, must symbolize their many years of attending church. Maybe the older your shoes looked, the more knowledgeable and righteous you were.
“Or maybe,” I thought, “men just don't like buying new shoes.”
Glancing down, I saw my loud green shirt, boot-cut tan pants, and square-toed shiny shoes.
I had bought the new shoes for my wedding a month ago.
Unlike other churches, the church I attend has separate Sunday school classes for men and women. And now, as a married man, I went to the married men’s Sunday school class in the basement of this old country church. I paused for a brief moment at the top of the stairs, watching the men below me. Their hair, I noticed, was actually combed with a comb.
I hadn't used a comb in years.
“God,” I whispered, “I'll go down there, but you should’ve reminded me to buy a comb!”
The circle of folding chairs was almost filled. I slid silently into the nearest one, opened my Bible, and uncomfortably shuffled my shiny shoes beneath me. When I finally looked up, I noticed a few men were looking at me.
I know, I know... I'm the guy with the new shoes.
Our grey-haired teacher read the key Scriptures and opened it up for discussion. Glancing down at the Sunday school study guide in my hand, I noticed the title of today’s lesson.
“Deep Truths Simply Told”
For the next fifteen minutes, the other men shared elaborate analogies, deep thoughts, and scriptural references. Occasionally, a hypothetical question was asked. I struggled to understand the conversation around me.
The man sitting next to me, the one who rarely spoke, cleared his throat, "You know, I can sit here and quote Scriptures, I can read all the books in the Christian section of Barnes & Nobles, I can study out the timeline and history of the Bible. And I’ve been that man.” He paused, glancing around at the men. “And I was unhappy. Somehow, in my quest for knowledge, I’d managed to miss God. Like me, I think many people in the world today possess the knowledge of Christ, but few have godly wisdom.”
Just a whisper of a thought came to mind. Feeling prompted to share, my heart beat rapidly.
"I love that thought." Every eye turned toward me. "This past week," I stammered, "I was reading to my nephew and I asked him, 'what book should we read? The one about the elephant or the one about Noah's ark?' When he pointed to Noah's ark, I asked him why he chose that one. His reply has been a reminder to me this past week. 'Because I think it's about Jesus. I like Jesus... and Jesus is my friend.' Even the smallest child has the capability of understanding. To me, that's godly wisdom."
The conversation stopped.
I hung my head, not wanting to look at the group of men. These men, with their deep thoughts, carefully planned analogies, and beautiful hypothetical questions. What was I thinking... sharing a story from a child.
Finally the bell rang, signaling the end of Sunday school.
As I climbed the stairs, I breathed a sigh of relief. Sidling into a wooden pew, I told myself I would skip Sunday school hour from now on.
The man who rarely spoke slid in next to me. He squeezed my shoulder, "I just want you to know, I appreciated that story you shared. It was an encouragement to me.” He paused, reaching for a hymnal. The church had grown quiet.
“Hang in there. I remember when I was newly married. Just give it time… it gets better."
The next Sunday, I went back.
Image by Sheep Purple (V). Used with permission via Flickr. Post by Duane Scott.