Finding my way back to Sunday School
Originally appeared online in the teen series My Church - March 22, 2022.
When I became a teenager, I started to develop a distaste for Sunday School. I’d loved doing a variety of Christian Science activities when I was a kid, including attending Christian Science Sunday School. But now, I was becoming hyperaware of all the times when our class discussions would go off topic or when it felt like I hadn’t learned anything. Also, I was never satisfied with what happened in the class. When we only read from the weekly Bible Lesson (found in the Christian Science Quarterly), I wished we’d had a discussion. When we did have a discussion, I wished we’d read from the Lesson. I was blind to these contradictions and focused on the negative.
As time went on, I felt less motivated to go to Sunday School, and my attendance dropped. Even when the pandemic lockdown caused my church to close for an undetermined amount of time, my dislike for Sunday School only grew as I continued to reflect on all the things about it that weren’t working for me.
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Then the opportunity arose to attend an online version of Christian Science Sunday School sponsored by another church. I liked it and preferred many aspects over the in-person experience. I loved the thoughtful discussions and the way every topic was one I’d never before discussed from a Christian Science perspective. I felt like I didn’t want to go back to my original Sunday School routine, when this new class was working so well for me.
It was also during this time that I found out that a loved one was struggling with something difficult, but I didn’t get any more details. It sounded like a big deal, and I felt afraid. I’d learned in Sunday School that this was the kind of thing I could pray about, but I had no idea where to start.
After a while, my local church opened back up, but I didn’t intend to go back. So, I stayed home every Sunday, reading parts of the Lesson on my own. But my parents really wanted me to return, so I finally agreed to go back for one class.
I was nervous. I was worried that things might be awkward. I was prepared for it to be a total disaster. Instead, the members of my Sunday School class were welcoming and excited to see me. And to my surprise, our discussions were more on topic, more uplifting, and even self-reflective. This was everything I had wanted.
But part of me was still expecting the conversation to get derailed any second. What I didn’t expect was for my teacher to pull out an article from the Christian Science Sentinel that would change the way I was thinking about Sunday School—completely.
The article, written by William Curtis Coffman, was titled “Treat yourself daily” (March 6, 1948). It discussed some of the foundational points of Christian Science, including how to pray effectively for yourself each day. Several key ideas in the article related to what I was going through.
On the subject of fear, this idea stood out to me: “Fear is an enemy to progress. It begins to disappear as the fact that all reality is God and His idea becomes established in consciousness.” For months, I’d been very worried about my loved one, but that passage helped me face down the fear. I realized that giving in to fear wouldn’t help the situation, but knowing the reality of God’s power and goodness would. I started feeling immensely better as my thoughts shifted in a more productive, spiritual direction.
The article also helps to clarify where every good and right thought comes from and why we should challenge thoughts that aren’t good. It says: “The Mind of Christ, man’s true consciousness, is God-sustained. It cannot be mesmerized by aggressive mental suggestions,” and, “Our duty to mankind is to love our brother man as God’s own image and likeness.” These passages changed my perspective on Sunday School by enabling me to start seeing the good—both in my class experience and in my fellow students. I felt my anger being lifted off of me as all those negative thoughts just dissolved.
After that, I was able to enjoy the rest of that Sunday School class without expecting something to go wrong. I felt genuinely connected to my classmates and my teacher. I left church that day inspired by what I had learned and grateful I had been encouraged to come back. I was even excited to return the next week.
Since this healing, not only has my own attitude been different, but my Sunday School experience has improved as well. Our time on Sundays has been filled with deep spiritual discussions that I’ve adored. I’ve also learned that there are many benefits to being in Sunday School. The best part is that you get to have meaningful discussions about Christian Science with people your own age and that these can have a healing impact on your life. They did for me.
I’m so grateful that I found my way back to Sunday School.