The Importance of Religious Education
Today is the first day of Sunday School, so I thought it would be good to share with you my thoughts about the importance of religious education. It is something we all think and talk about, but unfortunately our conversation is often limited to Sunday School. And when we think about Sunday School, we normally think about children sitting in a classroom learning facts about God and the Church, much in the same way we learn about world history.
Religious education is not about knowing facts about God, but knowing God personally, and there is a big difference between the two. We can learn facts about God: He created the universe, He kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, He chose Moses to lead ‘His People’ out of Egypt, etc. Knowing any of these facts about God, doesn’t help us know Him personally. Unless we move beyond facts, we will keep just talking about Him and never to Him.
How does religious education help? First, and I think most importantly, we must change the purpose of religious education. Instead of spending all our time learning facts about God, we must start learning to love being with Him. In the Orthodox Church, being with Him is known as being in Communion with Him. Ultimately, religious education must teach us to learn to love to be in communion with God, but it doesn’t end with Sunday School.
Let’s face it. Adults also have a difficult time understanding how to love being with God, not just children. Effective religious education happens when the entire family learns to love to be in communion with God. That includes Sunday School, Orthodox 101, Bible Study, Book Club, GOYA, HOPE/JOY...etc. ALL OUR MINISTRIES are ultimately part of religious education in the true sense, in that they all help us learn to be in communion with God.
As we begin Sunday School, the last of our programs to restart since the pandemic began last year, it is time for us as a Cathedral family to dedicate our entire family life to religious education, and learn to love to be in communion with God. It won't be easy. It will be a sacrifice, but it will be blessed by God. St Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12.1)
Whether it be during our new Sunday School ministry, or during Greek Folk Dance or Bible Study, I invite our entire family to make a fresh commitment to learning to love to live to be with God, not just on Sunday morning but every day all day. When it comes to Sunday School, it will no longer be just sitting in a classroom learning facts about God. We will come together and spend time with God, and learning to love every moment.