The current studies happening in my church have made me reflect on studies I’ve done in the past for other church Sunday schools.
The great majority of the classes I’ve visited have spent a lot of time on what seems to be very shallow. During college, I was in a college-aged Sunday school (because, of course, we had to be separated). The brave leader of our class chose to study Leviticus. But study wasn’t really the word for what happened in that class. My fellow young churchgoers aired random opinions (which weren’t corrected by the leader, even when wildly unbiblical). We ended up agreeing that God was holy. Extending that truth to a study of just how holy our God is and how sinful we are in the light of His presence wasn’t really a popular idea, though.
I remember wondering why there was never a class on doctrine in our church, not split up by age but a systematic instruction in theology that would ground us and keep us from having vague, unbiblical ideas about everything under the sun. I wasn’t the only college student who wanted something deeper. On my campus, a small Bible study began combing through Romans, reading commentaries and spending hours discussing what Paul meant in certain difficult verses. I’m sure wisdom was often lacking from our study, considering our youth. But fervor was definitely there!
During that time, I became very disillusioned with the church. I felt that the church dismissed its youth, especially the high schoolers, as being unable to understand doctrine (so we needed to treat them with pizza parties instead, and then [God forbid!] send the ignorant heathens out on missions trips to some country where they couldn’t do too much damage because they didn’t speak the language.)
But I was wrong. There are still churches that are teaching the truth. There are still churches that believe children are able to understand something beyond how to color inside the lines of a picture of Noah’s ark. There are still churches that exalt the glory of God and see missions not as a party for the youth group but as a vital part of our goal of seeing Christ glorified in every nation. I was a part of one of those churches last year, when we lived in Houston, and I believe that we are part of that kind of church now.
“Let us be known for being rigorously biblical, searching the Scriptures to determine what God really says on [God’s sovereignty] and other key doctrinal issues. For the most part, we are not doing this, and our theological shallowness is an indictment of our current state and an embarrassment to our history!” – Daniel Akin, quoted by Collin Hansen in “Young, Restless, Reformed,” the Christianity Today article that was the seed for Hansen’s later book with almost the same title.
We shouldn’t seek to be puffed up by knowledge. We should seek to know our God and be known by Him, and that desire should be the heart of our studies and our fervor. And our ability to learn about God in a deep way shouldn’t depend on whether or not we’ve already graduated from youth group.