The success of Scripture is in the hands of boys like Simon, aged eleven
People Matter was a regular column by Phillip Jensen in Southern Cross, the monthly magazine of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
Jensen, P 'The success of Scripture is in the hands of boys like Simon, aged eleven'. Southern Cross, June 2002.
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Simon is only eleven. But Simon has done for Scripture what parents, scripture teachers, and school teachers find so hard to do. Simon has made scripture popular.
When he started to tell his friends about scripture class and how good it was—now that his mother was running it—others queued up to join.
In my part of Sydney—the Eastern Suburbs—it can be quite hard to get children to scripture.
The inconvenience of scripture classes to the school routine, and the long-term failure of religious groups to regularly staff all opportunities, have made some schools less than enthusiastic about scripture.
The generational shift from supporting scripture classes has run something like the following:
Bert followed the fashion of his day. He went to church most weekends just as he went to tennis or golf, read his newspapers, mowed his grass and did his other chores. His son Peter went to Sunday School and to religious instruction given by the clergy at the local public school. Bert never thought about it consciously but assumed that Peter would grow up to raise his family along the same line with the same weekend rituals.
Peter followed the fashion of his day, but left off church going and Sunday school for his son David. He said David had to go to school scripture because one day he would have to make up his own mind about God for himself.
David followed the fashion of his day and the clear unambiguous teaching of his father. David concluded that God was just a matter of opinion on a very unimportant subject. So he sent his son Charles to school and let the child decide for himself whether he would go to scripture or not.
Today it is often up to the children whether they attend scripture or not. The school will not support the activity, the parents want to avoid any conflict with the child, the child thinks any extra lesson has to be ‘boring’—so God is dumped by default at the whim of a child.
That is why Simon is so important—both Simon and his mother. For their commitment to scripture and involvement in the school is the key to Simon’s evangelistic ‘success’.
Simon’s mother is one of those parents who is actively involved in her children’s education. She is a member of the P&C, goes as the accompanying parent on excursions, helps with remedial reading, and is a part of the school community. Her place among Simon’s friends is assured because she is the mum the other children know and who, in turn, knows all the children by name.
So when Simon invites his classmates to his mum’s scripture class the students come and the staff are welcoming and helpful.
Government legislation and school permission are good and necessary—but in the end it is people that matter. It is Christian people like Simon and his mum who are at the forefront of Christian witness in the school community. And with every generation of children there has to be a new generation of parents, like Simon’s mum, willing to take up the challenge of school involvement—commending the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some of Simon’s friends are now following him to Sunday school. But that is another story.