Spiritual Growth & Choice

I attended Principia College which meant when I came home on breaks everyone had questions about what it was like. It must be fabulous living in a utopian setting full of like-minded Christian Scientists, other parents yearned for their children to also attend Prin, and several older church members bragged that their children had attended Prin as well.

I was home one spring break and as I was still a year or so shy of my twentieth birthday I opted to attend Sunday School instead of sitting with the congregation in the main edifice. It was spring break at home and many families were skipping church that particular Sunday morning. There were enough students for a middle-school aged class, and then there was me.

Clearly a college girl was not an appropriate classmate for pre-teen and young teenage boys, so my former Sunday School teacher (and Sunday School Secretary) was asked to sit with me. Ms. S and I had gotten along quite well when I was in the fourth grade, she was a bit special, but she didn’t mind if we paraphrased the bible stories in that week’s lesson instead of reading them verbatim from the books (KJV can be tedious reading).

Ms. S was curious how Prin handled Sunday School with such a large group of students. While Sunday School and church attendance was not mandatory at Prin, it was strongly encouraged and often used as a “bonding experience” by the Houses (on-campus dorms). Students up to the age of twenty attended Sunday School in the Dining Hall, while everyone else attended the Church service at the Chapel on campus.

Ms. S was particularly interested in how Sunday School classes were assigned. I explained at the beginning of each school year classes were filled on a first-come first-serve basis with students picking their teachers. Students were also free to change teachers, but it was rude to do so mid-quarter. I myself had started freshman year with a Sunday School teacher with whom I disagreed and had switched after a quarter or two.

Ms. S balked at that idea and proceeded to give me an earful. To put it mildly, I didn’t take it as meekly as I did in the fourth grade.

Apparently young adults are not capable of choosing their own teachers. How are they to know where they are in their spiritual progression? Clearly someone older and wiser must decide for them. Who exactly is going to decide where a person is with their spiritual growth? A well-meaning volunteer from the Elsah Church who has never met most of the students until they walk into the dining hall? Really Ms. S? You haven’t been my Sunday School teacher since I was eight, I’m now over 18, are you really going to be the best judge of my “spiritual growth?”

Needless to say that was the last time I attended Sunday School at my local church, after that (even though I was still under twenty) I attended church with the rest of the congregation.