During the past two years, as our family has lived overseas working on behalf of Presbyterian World Mission, we attended a small congregation with very few children. You can read about our choice to join that church here.
There were many great benefits to being a part of this diverse and eclectic community of faith - and the only drawback was that there was no Sunday school for our son to attend. He was in Egypt for his 3rd and 4th grade years - formative years when children in thoughtfully designed Christian education programs are exposed to some of the great stories of the Bible.
Of course, he was not leaving worship to attend Sunday school, and this meant that during our time in Egypt he likely heard over 150 readings from scripture (both the Old and New Testaments) as well as close to 80 sermons on those texts which in many other congregations he would have missed because of our collective tendency to remove children from worship about halfway through. It means he recited the Apostles’ Creed the same number of times, watched me put our family offering in the plate the same number of times, and prayed the Lord’s Prayer just as many times.
It also meant that for the first time I felt a personal obligation to be his primary Christian educator. Granted, in our previous congregation I was his pastor and helped to shape the curriculum that was used in his Sunday school classes, but with the hectic schedule of a pastor on any given Sunday morning, I relied heavily on my colleagues and the volunteers in our classrooms to mentor my child in the faith.