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The Boy And The Sunday School by Alexander of Cappadocia

XI THE BOYS' DEPARTMENT IN THE SUNDAY SCHOOL

The Boys' Department in the Sunday school is the grouping together of organized classes for the sake of unity and team work among the adolescent boys. Investigation proves that boys work together best when separated from men, women and girls. The Boys' Department contemplates a change from the usual organization in the Sunday school, in that the classes of boys between twelve and twenty years of age shall meet as a separate department of the school and have their own closing and opening services, and the natural activities that would spring from a separate departmental life. The underlying idea of the Boys' Department is to make the boys feel that they are a real part of the Sunday school, with a real purpose and actual activities. Where it has been tried, not only has the attendance been increased, but the enrollment in the department has been doubled and trebled. The department also presents an opportunity of interesting boys in all forms of church life through the committee work which the department inaugurates. The criticism that the Boys' Department may become a junior church is not borne out by the experience of the men who have tried it. On the other hand, the testimony is that the Boys' Department has increased the attendance at the morning and evening services of the church, and has created a general interest and enthusiasm for the entire church life. The Boys' Department is not urged on any basis of sex segregation, although a good many educators are urging the segregation of the sexes in public education. The underlying idea of the Department is to group the boys together for team work and cooperation, with a clear understanding of the gang principle which clamors for a club or organization that satisfies the social and fraternal need. In fact, it is the neglect of the latter by the Sunday school that has brought the countless boys' organizations into existence, and the well-conducted Boys' Department, composed of well-organized, self-governing Bible classes, will mean much to the general church life, as well as to the simplifying of the present complicated scheme of work with boys. Nearly all of these auxiliary boy organizations have had their birth in the Sunday school, through the attempt to meet the boy need, which the Sunday school hitherto has not seen its way clear to do.

When departmental organization, however, is mentioned, the genius of the individual leader and teacher must come into play. The form of organization that may be successful with one leader may be a failure with another. This chance does not lie or inhere in the organization, but in the leader; for the gifts, talents, equipment and adaptability of leaders vary just as much in Sunday school organization as in the so-called secular forms of activity. The best form of organization, then, as well as the most successful form for the local school, is the |kind that works.|

Three Proved Forms of Departmental Organization

Successful organization is the result of experiment. None but the result of experiment has a right to be exploited. Sunday school teen age workers have tried, proved and found satisfactory to their own liking, by its results, the following three kinds of teen age organization for the local school:

Intermediate and Senior Departments

The first of these is known as the Intermediate and Senior Departmental organization. Its characteristic is the dividing of the teen age into two groups -- Intermediate, 13 to 16 years, and Senior, 17 to 20 years. In some schools these departments meet separately for Sunday school work. Wherever this is done there should be at least a superintendent and secretary for each. While the general principles of the work are the same, the problems and details of the classes are sometimes different. The department superintendent should have special charge of his department and be responsible for building it up; also for department teachers' meetings, and should be personally acquainted with every scholar. The department secretary should keep an alphabetical and birthday card index of scholars; send welcome letters to new scholars; provide the superintendent with a list of new scholars, that they may be properly presented to the department; send lists of absentees to teachers; keep a record of correlated work accomplished by scholars, quarterly lesson examinations, etc.

Teen Age Department

In some schools the custom is to combine the Intermediate and Senior Departments into one and to regard the years, 13 to 20, as a series of eight grades. Several large schools are enthusiastic about this plan, and as the worship requirements are much the same in the teen years the Opening and Closing Services are acceptable to all grades. This arrangement also is adaptable to limited equipment, and affords a certain amount of hero-worship to the younger boy on account of the older boy being present. It also offers the older boy a field of service through helpfulness to the younger members of the department. In some schools this adaptation is known as the High School Department.

Boys' Departments

During the last few years separate Boys' Departments have come into favor with some Sunday school workers. These departments should not be attempted, however, until every class is organized (see chapter on The Organized Sunday school Bible Class), and there is efficient leadership to guide them. A premature start may be ineffective and prejudice parents and boys.

=The Departmental Committees=

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee has direct oversight of the general affairs of the department and acts officially between sessions on matters needing prompt attention. It is made up of the officers, general Departmental Progressive Steps

The steps in organizing a Teen Age Boys' or Secondary Division Department should be:

1. Appointment of Teen Age Superintendent.

2. Every class organized according to Denominational and International Standard.

3. Two-session-a-week classes -- Sunday and week-day.

4. Trained teachers.

5. Departmental organization.

=Departmental Equipment=

Separate Rooms

There should be separate assembly rooms or divisions for these departments where they meet apart from each other. There should also be separate rooms or screened-off places for the classes to meet.

Equipment

The outfit for the department and classes should include Bibles, tables, blackboards, charts, pictures, maps -- including maps for mission study, also relief maps, mission curios, etc.

Promotions

Much should be made of promotions to and from the grades within the department. A certificate or diploma recognizing regular work should be granted on Promotion Day. Special work done is recognized by placing a seal upon the certificate. Promotion exercises should include some statement of the work accomplished.

Sunday School Spirit

In order to maintain a genuine spirit of Sunday school unity it is desirable to have the whole school meet together from time to time for the common tie and uplift of worship in the mass. The exercises of festival occasions also help to bring this about, and the common gatherings, regular or special, of the school, tend to magnify the united leadership of officers and teachers. These should never interfere with the work of instruction, the main objective of the school, but should supplement it. Departments should be made to feel their partnership in the Sunday school enterprise, and this may be brought about by the reading of the departmental and school minutes in each department. Continued emphasis should be placed on the oneness of the school -- |All one body, we.| Thus we may hope for Christian comradeship and loyalty.

BIBLIOGRAPHY ON BOYS' DEPARTMENT

Boys' Work Message. -- (Men and Religion Movement) ([USD]1.00).

Cope. -- Efficiency in the Sunday School ([USD]1.00).

Huse. -- Boys' Department in Springvale, Maine (American Youth, February, 1911) (.20).

Stanley. -- The Boys' Department in the Sunday School (American Youth, April, 1911) (.20).

Waite. -- Boys' Department of the Sunday School (Free leaflet).

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