Monday, October 22, 2012

Surviving Middle School, Killing Sunday School

     In 2009 UnKommon Media and Interlinc published a book by Pastor Rick Bundschuh (Kauai Christian Fellowship, Kauai, Hawaii) called Surviving Middle School (A Hilarious Guide That Will Help You Avoid Being A Dork). I received the book from Interlinc because, at the time, I was a member of their organization that sends CDs, books, and other media-related resources to people in student ministry.

     I read the book in 2009, and I was so appalled by what I read that I cancelled my membership. The book got shuffled around and eventually lost in my junk drawer, and I just recently re-discovered it. When I did, I was reminded about the book’s content, and wanted to share a quick reason why I think books like this are killing some ministries.

     While the book doesn’t say this, I assume that the purpose is for me to use it in student ministry. The author says that he is writing to middle schoolers (or junior high students), but the book is being sent to those of us that work with students in the name of “resources.” I can’t help but wonder how many churches in this country used this book in Sunday school or small group settings, or ordered this book and gave it to students. And of the churches that did, I wonder how many parents were first made aware of the content of the book.  

     This book uses the word “sex” dozens and dozens of times in its short 125 pages. And while I admit that the author is trying to tell students to wait until marriage, I think that is WAY too many uses of the word for 6th graders. I try to say things like “inappropriate relationship,” “going to far,” or “getting physical.” Sometimes I will say “sexual,” but very rarely, even when talking to adults, will I use the word “sex.”

     I know that it is not a curse word, but frankly, there are a lot of people that don’t want to hear it, and there are even more people who don’t want their 6th graders hearing it.

     But that is not my only problem with the book. Bundschuh felt the need to write about wet dreams, menstrual cycles, and “hair growing in some very private places (p.31).” I guess he didn’t think these kids could survive middle school without him writing that. For some reason he describes a girl named Tami who was “already developing curves in elementary school. By the time she hit eighth grade she already looked like a young woman (p.26).” That is in his section where he talks about how some girls get jealous that other girls develop faster than them, and he went into a little too much detail about girls upper-body development.

     Here is my real concern. When churches take it upon themselves to focus on sexual education, biological development, and a general usurping of the parent’s authority in their children’s lives, then the church is missing its reason for existence. Any student minister that thinks he knows better than his students’ parents and uses this book without their consent is crossing a line. This book goes right along with the vain, heretical entertainment-driven student ministry.

     Can you imagine picking your sweet 6th grade daughter up from her Sunday school class and asking her what she learned about. You expect her to say Jesus, Samson, or Jonah, but instead she says, “Wet dreams.” I can promise you I would be having a talk with that teacher.

     Do you think our grandparents heard this trash in church when they were growing up? And yet, somehow, they were still able to survive middle school (and procreate!). We have pushed the envelope so far that this filth is now considered to be a good resource. Ultimately, this is why churches are dying. While some churches are trying so hard to be hip, relevant, and new, they have replaced the message of the blood of Christ with the message of beer, bedroom toys, and bad words.

    Ministers, do you want your church to have power? The formula is no secret; just determine to preach the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified (I Corinthians 2:2). You might not have a crowd as large as the guy who preaches from his bed or with a beer bottle in hand, but you will have the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

     By the way, when I cancelled my Interlinc subscription, I did hear back from them. I got an email saying, “Thank you for your feedback. Click here to claim your Surviving Middle School DVD.

      They still didn’t get the point. I hope you do. 

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