« AnteriorContinuar »
Five centuries ago, and a thousand, and fifteen hundred, and two thousand, the world in its periodical agony called aloud for aid, and men put all behind them and answered, in conformity with the will of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who first, for the saving of the world, voluntarily established for Himself and for those who would follow Him, the threefold vow of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience and added for full measure, brotherhood and work. Again the same call goes forth, and now, or later, the same answer must be made and will be made. If to any of you the call has ever come, "Sell that thou hast; take up thy cross and follow Me," he must make sure of two things: first, that the call is indeed of God; and second, that even at the price of life itself, it does not go unheard.
Us Use What We Have!
BY THE REV. CHARLES HERBERT YOUNG.
HERE is great reason for encouragement as we look out upon the attitude of Churchmen today toward the reli
gious education of their children. Throughout the nation we find an increasing desire to understand children and what training they need to enable them to develop the spiritual powers with which God has endowed them, in order that they may realize their personal responsibility as members of the family of God as well as their duties as citizens in the commonwealth of man. We are leaving far behind the old notion that the training of children is a "necessary evil" in parish life, to be shirked by every live person and relegated to a few elderly ladies and young girls. The time has long passed when one could truthfully answer the old conundrum, "When is a School not a School?" by replying "When it is a Sunday School."
It is not my purpose in this article to review the steps of the growth which have led to this awakening, interesting though they would be; but rather, to make some practical suggestions from observation and from experience in developing schools under modern conditions. We frequently hear men say that
they would like nothing better than to have a good school, with modern equipment and methods, trained teachers and efficient officers. But they add, "We cannot do it in our parish." Why not? Let us use what we have.
Let us imagine ourselves in an "average parish," with an "average rector," "average people for teachers," and "average children" as pupils, with the average guild rooms (or even only the nave of the Church) to work in. Our first step would be to procure and master the fundamental principles of a few practical books, and if possible, have at least one or two other people read them too, in order that they might become good helpers in the work. The following books will be of great practical assistance: "The Children's Challenge to the Church," by the Rev. Dr. Gardner; "Church Ideals in Education," by the General Board of Religious Education; "The Churchman's Manual of Methods in the Sunday School," by the Rev. Dr. Butler; "Religious Education," by the Rev. Dr. W. W. Smith; "Elements of Religious Pedagogy," by Pattee (read with the realization that the author, not being a Churchman, omits reference to the supernatural grace which comes through the Sacraments); "The Sunday School Under Scientific Management," by Archdeacon Dennan; "Organizing the Smaller School," by the Rev. Dr. Bradner; and the pamphlets explaining the "Christian Nurture Series." There are almost countless other books which one may read if he has the time. But these will give one who masters them an ample foundation upon which to build.
Before proceeding farther, one ought to set clearly before himself the definite purpose for which he wishes to have a Church School. There must be a goal toward which every energy and talent of every member of the School is directed, and to the accomplishment of which every will is consecrated. Perhaps this may be expressed as simply as possible in some such words as these:
"To realize that each of these children is an immortal soul for whom our Saviour gave His life, and whom He has entrusted to my care in order that I may teach him to know and to love God, to serve and worship Him, and to prove this love by his conduct toward his fellow men."
It is quite possible that in many instances the only definitely spiritual influence in the lives of the boys and girls is that which they receive in the Church School. The test of the value of the school will not be its numerical strength, its percentage of attendance, its perfection of organization nor its financial showing. But it will be seen in later years when the boys and girls come into conflict with the powers of evil and are able to resist them because they learned how to go to God for help and to use His grace in their hour of need. We strongly suspect that some schools have exerted but little influence upon either their teachers or pupils because there was no definite purpose in their work, no great spiritual vision toward which every member of the school strove with all of his powers, no great call to which he could truthfully consecrate his will. But we have never seen a school fail when its leaders were consciously striving to see and know God's will, and sincerely using His grace in accomplishing it.
When we have determined upon the real purpose for which we wish to have a Church School, certain definite factors will be found necessary to carry it into effect. Since the school is intended for the spiritual training of children, they are the first and most important element in its life. We must have children. To accomplish worth-while results with them we shall require a course of study prepared to meet the needs of the child and progressing by pedagogical steps so as to cover the subjects in which he should be trained, giving him an opportunity to express in worship and in his social life the ideals he is being taught to value; and we shall need teachers who feel it a privilege to consecrate their talents and their time to equip themselves to be worthy leaders in this glorious work. These two factors are essential. We must have them. Others are of great assistance, but we can do our work even if we have not the most modern type of building, equipped with the most complete line of helps. Let's use what we have.
In selecting a course of study our work is greatly simplified because the Church, through the General Board of Religious Education, has provided "The Christian Nurture Series," which
is the most complete and satisfactory course yet produced for Church children. It is not the product of one mind, but is the result of the careful study and experience of a large number of men and women in the Church, who have tested every part and have given us the net result of their experience. Because these men and women are consecrating their talents to the sacred work, and are seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we may look forward with confidence to its growth under His leading.
The Christian Nurture Series may be divided into two natural sequences. The first is known as "Church Pathways," which undertakes to help the child develop the right feelings toward God and the facts of our religion. He is first taught to trust God as our loving Father in Heaven from Whom He receives all things. He learns the story of the Saviour's coming and other events developed in the Church Year. Simple forms of prayers are taught, and he is shown how to be helpful to others. In the succeeding courses in this sequence the scheme of the Church Catechism is followed, designed to prepare the child for a fuller understanding of the Catechism as it is studied at a later period. The devotional life of the child receives careful attention. He is trained in worship by the use of services with hymns and prayers which express the love of his soul for God. These services are held in a special chapel, or (where that is not possible) in a room prepared reverently with a temporary altar, in order that he may learn to approach God in worship in the way God appointed. At frequent intervals the little children are to be brought to the regular services of the Church, and taught that because they are God's children He loves to have them come and worship Him. In the fifth Course (about the third grade in public school) the themes build toward the Catechism ideas of the Covenant, Prayer and the Sacraments. To aid the children, they are taken on regular "Pilgrimages" into the Church, where the Rector (or some other qualified person) carefully explains to them the symbolism and meaning of the Font, the Altar, the Cross, the Lights, the Vestments, etc. Along with this widening knowledge of the Church are carefully chosen
additions to his prayer-life and definite acts of Christian service for others. This sequence ends with a child's survey of the missionary life of the Church, "God's Great Family."
The second sequence is "The Church's Life." It emphasizes the idea of listening while God speaks, finding God in every experience of the religious life. He first hears God speak through "The Christian Year," upon which is built an elementary life of our Lord. The next course shows him how to hear God speak through Church Worship and Membership. The services of the Holy Communion, and the Offices of the Church, are studied. Old Testament stories are used for illustration, and he is shown that just as God was able to help other men through Abraham, David and the other saints of old because they listened to Him and worshipped Him, so He will be able to help other people today through them if they will listen as He speaks to them through worship. Then follows a Life of our Lord, presented in such a way that the pupils are encouraged to live with Him in their daily experiences and to be loyal to Him in all ways. This is followed by a course on "The Long Life of the Church," in which S. Paul and other leaders of the New Testament are studied, followed in the last half of the year by sketches of some of the prominent figures in the Church's life down to our time. The final course is "The Winning of the World," hearing God speak through the spread of His message through the world, as they study the lives of His chief messengers.
For the Senior School a sequence on "Truth and Service" is being prepared. This will include a course on "The Contents of the Bible and Outlines of Biblical History." Another on "Christian Service," a discussion course on how the Church meets modern problems of life. Another on the relation of "The Creeds of the Church" to modern problems. Another on "The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Church," designed to acquaint the pupil with the spiritual nature of the work of the Church and the grace of her Sacraments.
The special value of the Christian Nurture Series is that it has expanded the training of the children beyond merely the