Loving the Learners

“I’m glad those days are over,” I heard the woman say. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop but in a closed space it’s impossible sometimes to not hear what other people are saying. She was glad the days of showing up in her child’s classroom to volunteer were over. At one point in the conversation she admitted that she teaches Religious Education once a month at her church. “And they are all unchurched, and their parents are unchurched; they don’t know anything.” It was clear from the sound of her voice this work was drudgery to her.

It struck me as very sad, sad for her and especially sad for the people entrusted to her care once a month. I thought:

1. How can you appreciate these people if all you see them is once a month? Children especially learn from people with who they have a relationship. Once a month does not a relationship make. You’re not doing anybody any favors, least of all yourself.

2. What a lot of fun to teach people about your faith who know very little. It’s a lot like taking a friend to a place you really like. It can be exciting and invigorating for your faith as much as for the ones you teach. Maybe you need to do something to reinvigorate the joy of your faith.

Not everyone is called to teach. Even those called to teach need some time away from teaching once in awhile. What about those of us who don’t think we are called to teach? Would we be as grudging about sharing our faith? And could we do it in a manner that is empty of judgment?

It is a wonderful, gracefilled moment I experience when a person new to church life and new to Christian faith asks a question that makes it clear I’m making a lot of assumptions. Then we get to uncover together the things I’d assumed were already made plain. There are many people hungry to know more about the Christian faith, more about the Bible and they deserve to be received with respect and joy, no matter their age. I’m grateful to be part of a congregation that is able to receive people where they are in their faith journey without making them feel less than for not knowing something. I’m grateful to be part of a community of faith that while deeply rooted in history of scripture and even tradition, is not ideological and doctrinaire about what we hold dear.

When you ask someone to church, for worship or class or fellowship, you are asking them to share in the meaning of your life. If you were to take them to a favorite vacation spot on the beach or the mountains, wouldn’t you be filled with excitement and joy? What would make it possible for you to feel that way about bringing a friend to church?

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