Pastor Mark Gravrock, pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Kalispell, has written a good article comparing the strengths, weaknesses, and different foci of several Bible translations that are out there. I encourage you to read through the article below to see some of the differences between translations like the NRSV, NIV and the New Living translation. (I didn't even know them all before reading it!)
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I was not always the best Sunday school student. In fact, my first memories of my kindergarten Sunday school class include being forced to sit on the teacher’s lap so that I would not be a disruption to my fellow classmates. I was not exactly the ideal image of a future pastor as a kindergartener. Often, I was more concerned with the cookies that we would be able to snag after class than I was ever focused on the scriptures that we studied. And yet, I secretly soaked up our Biblical studies in a way that I did not portray through my disobedient presence in the class room. Outside of church, I read the Bible that my congregation gave to me, I prayed to God when I was alone and grew to have a deep, abiding faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Within a few years, my interest in the Bible, the church, and the Christian faith showed itself more strongly as I proved to be much more knowledgeable in Biblical and faith matters than the same classmates who put me to shame in subjects like math, science, or geography. I believe that God directed my interests to prepare me for leadership in the church even at a young age. And you know what? God used the church to do it.
The Holy Spirit uses the church and our Sunday school classes to raise children to faith in God as they grow. We are the teachers by whom the children of our community learn to pray, learn to read the Bible, memorize its stories of God’s work in our world, and learn to live as Christians in an increasingly faithless world. Sunday school for children and youth is crucial for a holistic development and growth, for as children attend classes in which they learn arithmetic, science and reading, they should also be learning about God’s love for them. In my experience, many children and youth are eager and curious to learn about the Bible and God’s infinite love for them. Much of the breakdown in Sunday school classes and learning has come not from the willingness of children to attend and learn about the wonderful mysteries of God, but has its source in an unwillingness by adults to boldly teach and live out the Christian faith in their own lives.
As we enter into another church year of Sunday school, I want to put a challenge to all of you; invite any and every child that you know of who does not have a church home to join us for Sunday school. Tell children in our Mission Valley community of your commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invite them to Sunday School in order for them to discover who God is and how God is already working in their lives. Tell the parents of these children how much your faith means to you and invite them and their children to share in our faith on Sunday mornings.
Even though we may face rejection when extending these invitations to join Sunday school, as Christians we are called to heed the words of Jesus when he said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). This commission beckons us forward regardless of discouraging realities in our world. The time when it was “easy” to host Sunday school programs is over. We can no longer expect parents to bring their kids through our doors on Sunday whenever we put up a sign saying that we have classes for them. We are now in a time when we must go out of our way to tell children, youth and their parents in our community how much God loves them and invite them to join us in learning about the ways in which God works in our world. As we work to welcome children, youth and their parents to encounter the Gospel, may we continually be encouraged by Jesus’ command to his disciples in the gospel of Matthew:
“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)
Pastor Seth Nelson
These posts are from Pastor Seth Nelson and include articles found in the Faith Lutheran Church Newsletter as well as devotional and theological reflections from the pastor.
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