I know quite a few atheists and some of them strongly believe that introducing children to Christianity from a young age is a way of “brainwashing” them, as they don’t believe that being born into a certain religion is a valid enough reason for someone to have the beliefs they do when they’re older. Is this true? Well here’s my side of the argument.
One thing I get a lot from people when I tell them I’m a Sunday school teacher is shock as they believe that I’m too young. Having just recently turned 18, I can say that I’m officially an “adult,” but I’ve been in charge of children in the church since I was about 16, so I think it’s time I gave people an idea of exactly what it is we do in the children’s church.
A Typical Sunday:
I collect the children from their parents at the start of Sunday school at around 11:30 and take them to the children’s section. After settling them down, I say an opening prayer with them and we sing ‘the Welcome Song,’ which is a simple chorus that gives thanks for everyone in the room and says how glad we are that he/she is there. I proceed to ask them about their week, what they’ve done in school and how they’ve “shown love” to someone. They are always very eager to tell what they’ve been up to, and I like asking them because I really am interested. After this, we have a quick recap of what we learnt the week before, and I ask them questions to see how well they’ve remembered last week’s topic. For little kids, they have such good memories and I’m always taken aback by how well they remember things. When the recap is over, I take the children back to join the main church as I believe it’s important for them, as young as they are, to be part of the praise and worship.
After this we go back to the children’s section and I move on to the day’s lesson, which I prepare from home. Our lessons are quite interactive as I show them videos, teach them songs, give them colouring pages to do, and then quiz them on what we’ve learned at the end. At the moment I’m teaching them how to pray, which is very exciting, so we alternate who says the closing prayer every week and I help them through it.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” and that is why I believe Sunday school is an important part of the church, as it introduces children to the Bible and gives them a foundation to build on as they grow up. This is where atheists/non believers would disagree with me, because they think that telling children from a young age about things like heaven and hell would scare them, forcing them to accept Christianity as the only way. But this is quite an exaggeration. My lessons involve teaching Bible stories and morals that can be learnt from these stories. I don’t think that this forces anything on children as I was taught the same when I was their age, so when I grew older I was able to decide for myself whether or not I really believed all this and wanted to carry on being a Christian. I counter argue with the point that many children are raised as vegetarians by their parents and they grow up to make their own decision on whether or not they want to continue being vegetarians, so I believe this is a similar thing.
I genuinely enjoy teaching the kids as I love each and every one of them and they are very dear to me. Being their teacher is not always easy though, as their ages range from 3 to 7, so breaking things down so they all understand can be difficult at times, especially when there’s a lot of them and only one of me! It’s all worth it though as they are all so precious.
So am I brainwashing their little minds? Well that’s up to you to decide.