Friday, June 02, 2006

Sunday School and Singles

Recently I was approached about taking a singles' Sunday School class at my church. I prayed about it and taking an adult class did not seem like something I ought to do. I did have some ideas as far as activities and outreach, though, so I was somewhat dissappointed to lose the opportunity entirely.I have seen problems before with singles' classes in church. Mostly, it has to do with unstated restrictions on who may attend and be a part, specifically with regard to age and previous marital status. As I have said before, many conservative Christians' ideas on marriage carry alot of baggage in terms of prejudice and pre-concieved ideas, which I see as detrimental to the best interests of Christian singles, but more on that later, perhaps!In addition, the need for a singles' class has to be questioned. For one thing, I see the over-segmentation of adult classes in terms of age and status as harmful to the vibrance of the church. I see a great need for the younger people to interact with the older people, as a matter of fact, this seems to be Paul's idea when he admonishes the older women to teach the younger and so forth... and I don't think this concept is adequately implemented by putting a lone older teacher over a group of younger adults. This issue is thus connected with the second- which is to ask whether Sunday School classes in general are effective in fostering the type of "community" that holds people together. I flatly doubt it. Community is found when you create a network of individuals and that network is created when you create individual relationships. Individual relationships are created through personal one-on-one interaction, so our goal should be to facilitate that kind of interaction.To go a little further, I think the most effective type of ministry within the church is that which takes place within the community, the web of individual relationships. Oftentimes we focus on what goes on up on the platform to the point of downplaying what goes on with others. We call the pulpit, pastor, and choir "church" when really the "church" is in the pews, silent, watching the same performance, and somehow believing when the last prayer has ended that they have truly experienced church. For me, the actual "service" is probably the part of church that is the least beneficial to me, and in most ways.So the question of Sunday School is really the question of community.
As concerns singles, I think seperating them out from the rest of the body at church service times only serves to focus them to an unacceptably high degree on their condition of being single. For most singles who desire marriage, the fact that they are single is already on their mind a large part of the time. The greater need for singles, perhaps, is to focus outward to others, because the tendancy is to focus on their own need.