Thinking Out Loud

September 1, 2015

Homeschool Parents’ Paranoia Extends To Sunday School Teachers at Their Own Church

This archive article is the second of two in a mini-series on the homeschool movement which I began yesterday. In this case, this will actually be the third time around for this one, but the other two were over five years ago…

homeschool fishFor seven months, Mrs. W. and I (but mostly her) were forced to become homeschoolers during a period when Kid One wasn’t quite fitting into the public school near our home. Despite the short period in which we did this, we became immediate friends with other people in the homeschool movement, and I would say we can somewhat understand their motivation.

So if you’re a homeschooler, let me say that I get it when it comes to not wanting your children to be under the influence — for six hours each weekday — of people who do not share your core values, some of whom may be 180-degrees opposed to your core values.

What I don’t get is not wanting to put your kids in the Sunday School program — some now call it small groups for kids program — of your home church. Not wanting anyone else to teach your kids anything. If your home church is that lax when it comes to recruiting teachers, or if you are that concerned that any given teacher in your church’s children’s program could espouse some really wacky doctrine — or worse, admit that he or she watches sports on Sundays — then maybe you should find another church.

To everyone else, if these comments seem a bit extreme, they’re not. Apparently, in one particular church that was under discussion this week, the homeschool crowd — which makes up the vast majority of those in the ‘people with kids’ category at this church — has decided that absolutely nobody else is going to teach their kids anything about the Bible. (Those same parents say they’re too tired from teaching their children all week to take on a weekend Sunday School assignment.)

In other words, it’s not just people in the public school system who aren’t good enough to teach their kids, it’s also people in their home church.

I am so glad that my parents didn’t feel that way. I think of the people who taught me on Sunday mornings, the people who ran the Christian Service Brigade program for boys on Wednesday nights, the people who were my counselors and instructors at Church camp, and I say, “Thank you; thank you; thank you! Thank you for sharing your Christian life and testimony and love of God’s word with me when I was 5, 8, 11, 14 and all the ages in between. And thank you to my parents for not being so protective as to consider that perhaps these people weren’t good enough to share in the task of my Christian education.”

I also think of Donna B., the woman who taught Kid One at the Baptist Church that became our spiritual refuge for a couple of years. He really flourished spiritually under her teaching, reinforced of course, by what we were doing in the home.

What message does it send to kids when the only people who have it right when it comes to rightly dividing the Word of truth are Mommy and Daddy? And what about the maturity that comes with being introduced to people who, while they share the 7-12 core doctrines that define a Christ-follower, may have different opinions about matters which everyone considers peripheral?

Where does all this end? Are these kids allowed to visit in others’ homes? When they go to the grocery store, are they allowed to converse with the woman at the checkout? My goodness; are they even allowed to answer the phone?

I’m sorry, homeschoolers, but when you start trashing the Sunday School teachers at your own church, you’ve just crossed the line from being passionate, conservative Christian parents to being downright cultish.

…There’s more to the story (two weeks later) — In an off-the-blog discussion I realized there is a critical factor missing in the original article that couldn’t be shared at the time. Because homeschool families made up the majority of this church congregation, it kind of stopped the Sunday School in its tracks. But more important, it ended up preventing any kind of mid-week program that would have been an outreach to neighborhood families that the pastor regarded as a vital element of the church’s ministry; and ultimately the church simply never grew.

However, when all attempts at outreach were ended — the pastor was forced to give up that agenda — one of the core family parents said, and this is a direct quote, “Isn’t it great; all the new people have left. That’s right, the new families that had wandered in got that spidey sense that told them they just didn’t belong and they all left that church, and the remaining families were glad that they left. Talk about backward priorities.


Update (2015) — The pastor of that church ended up leaving the denomination and is now enjoying a ministry on another part of the continent. I do seriously question any Christian denomination allowing all this to happen without severing ties with the church in question. In that particular town, that particular denomination has a reputation and it’s not a particularly good one. If I were part of a district or national office staff, I would be quite concerned.

4 Comments »

  1. I’ve never been part of a “movement” to stop Sunday school, but I have kept my children with me in service rather than put them in the Sunday school classes because the SS was fluff. I would have been fine with real instruction from someone else, even if we disagreed with some things (that is the point of discussion after all, isn’t it? to discover and explore different viewpoints?) but it was so much about having fun and keeping the kids busy, and so little about teaching anything. The last straw in our SS experiment came about 10 weeks in (we really did try!). My boys were in a class which watched “the Prince of Egypt” over two weeks, and then had a short Q&A session. We had recently studied the plagues and the exodus ourselves, so they knew the Biblical story well, but when my son described what they had been discussing I said, “but that’s not what happened with the plagues”, he replied, “I know. But they were asking us about the movie not the real story in the Bible.” I figured if he had that ability to discriminate he was ready for real sermons and not incorrect Bible stories. But what about the other kids? He was 6. And this was a very large church with no problem with enough kids for SS…and a large ‘system’ for teachers, so I couldn’t just fill in and volunteer. And yes, I homeschooled my kids, but they have a better understanding of a variety of Christian denominations, and non-Christian world views than most young adults. I’m sorry if what you describe in your example was true–especially about feeling better when “new people” left–but individual family reasons for not dropping the kids off in the kiddy rooms may be much more complex and well thought out than you describe.

    Comment by Elizabeth — September 1, 2015 @ 11:29 am

    • Thanks for taking the time to tell your story. I completely get it. In one church we visited, we would have been pleased with “Prince of Egypt;” they showed “Snoopy, Come Home.” We did not return.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 1, 2015 @ 6:04 pm

  2. It is wrong that the families were glad that the new people left, horrible actually. But we do not prefer “sunday school” for our children either. It has noting to do with people not being good enough to teach our children. Rather it is because it is best for children not to be segragated to classes where they are amongst peers only. Why should children not learn the Word of God right alonside their parents? The questions in your post such as “are they allowed to answer phone?” are condescending and show a distainful attitude toward these homeschoolers. There is also the issue of “church positions” which are not even Biblical. I don’t know your church, but some churchs pay up to $50,000 to $80,000 salary for a man to “hang out” with teeangers (youth pastor). This does not seem right to us and many families. I agree with the above paster the reasons for each individual family not using sunday school is more complex than what you are understanding.

    Comment by mylifeasahomeschoolinghousewife — September 1, 2015 @ 1:05 pm

    • Thanks for your comment. A lot is being written presently about making church more multi-generational and less segregated. The church in the later story did not have a Christian Ed pastor and shared their Youth guy with 3-4 other churches. The phone comment I made would make sense to you if you had been there; these kids were completely cut off from the real world. I have great relationships with many home school parents whose situation does not fit that stereotype.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 1, 2015 @ 6:08 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Your Response (Value-Added Comments Only)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: