Do you remember Sunday school pins at the churches you attended as a child? They were given out as attendance awards. Attend Sunday school for one year, get a pin, and then get a pin for every year after that. I have seen older church members with pins adverting thirty, forty, and fifty years of Sunday school attendance.
These pins were meant to be badges of honor; a sign that the wearer had dutifully attended Sunday school year after year. They were also meant to remind people that they had endured years of Sunday school lessons taught by unqualified teachers who often read from quarterlies instead of actually teaching them.
I taught Sunday school for years. I knew how bad adult classes could be, so I wanted to make sure that class members actually learned something and interacted with the lessons. At one Southern Baptist church I pastored in Clare, Michigan, the church had an adult Sunday school class teacher. Polly and I decided to attend the class. OMG, it was awful. I mean awful. Bad theology and interpretation. For example, the teacher said election means “we choose God.” Yepper, the Calvinist in me wanted to strangle him. I tried to gently correct him, but he took the “whatever it means to me” interpretive approach. Week after week class members would share what the Bible meant to them. Many of them had Sunday School pins going back decades. So much time invested in Biblical “truth,” so little knowledge and understanding.
Did you receive Sunday school pins (or buttons)? Do you have a Sunday school experience you would like to share? Comment away!
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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