Religion can and should give you a workable approach to life. In order to interest children (and most adults), it should deal with tangibles—with theories that apply to daily problems. The principles that Jesus taught centuries ago are not dated. They are as applicable to modern life as they were when He first taught them.
Lee Bonnell, my husband, and I belong to a progressive church, one that believes in combining normal social functions with your religious life. And that’s the way I want my boys to feel about their religion, that it enters into every phase of living.
Before our third son, Peter, was born, I taught Sunday School at the Hollywood-Beverly Christian Church for three years. I started with a nursery class, ages 2 1/2 to 4 1/2, for six months and then took over the beginners, 4 1/2 to 6, for well over two years.
Then Lee and I worked with a high school group that met at night. The boys and girls elected their own governing board, which decided what they would do with their meetings. For the first eight weeks, we had a drama group, rehearsing and staging a non-religious play.
Then the young people wanted a class in the development of charm and personality. We called it: “Charm, Good Manners and a Christian Personality,” and Lee and I led the discussion groups.
The change in attitudes in the age groups was very interesting. Actually, there was little natural curiosity about religious theory exhibited in any of the classes. But great interest was aroused as they watched the actual application of Bible teachings to the problems they daily faced. They were interested in how to get along with others. They were seeking a religious approach to everyday living.
The younger children, although they didn’t ask questions, were greatly influenced by Sunday School. They accepted almost without question what they were taught, proving the importance of proper early religious training. These children accept the Lord as Father, Friend and Guide. Phillip, our oldest son, talked about Sunday School throughout the week, indicating that a definite impression had been made on his mind.
In our high school group, we tried to bring religion into the discussions by illustrating that good living is merely applying religion to your daily contacts with others.
Luck was with me when I married, for Lee is a very avid churchgoer. He recently appeared in 16 millimeter short subjects, entitled: “Simon Peter, Fisherman” and “Stephen, First Christian Martyr,” which were expressly made for church showings.
It was this matching of spirit that maintained and increased my early interest in religion. Many people with the same interest in the church marry those who do not share the same feelings, and the desire dies.
Lee and I try to work together both in our home life and in our religious life, for we feel that the two are inseparable. And that’s how we want our boys to feel when they are grown up and have their own families.
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