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The Boy And The Sunday School by Alexander of Cappadocia


The church school is not, by any means, the only force in the community, as far as the boy is concerned, but it is destined to be the biggest force. The church, itself, is the most permanent institution of the community, and will always be so, as long as humanity remains religious. In the church are all the conserving elements of the community -- slow to change, it stands for the best. Having adopted anything after approved worth commends it, it tenaciously holds it in trust. Communities may have homes and schools, but, without the church, they are not good places in which to live. The church, then, because it is most permanent, should tie the loyalty of the boy to herself. This she best does through her school -- the Sunday school.

There are, however, other church forces in the community -- organizations fostered and supported by the material and moral enthusiasm of the members of the church. Some of these organizations have been frankly formed for the purpose of assisting the church in some special field of religious education. This is essentially true of such boy organizations as the Knights of King Arthur, Knights of St. Paul, Knights of the Holy Grail, and the Boys' Brigade. It is essentially true, also, of the Young Men's Christian Association. The first of these -- the boy organizations -- constitutes a method which is at the disposal of the church. The second -- the Christian Association -- has grown to be a mighty operating force, with hundreds of employed officers and millions of dollars of property. Save for the fact that church members compose the directorates, it is independent of the church. With this and other organizations what can the church's relationship be? The seeming answer would be cooperation -- a glad working together for the general betterment of the community itself by tried and approved plans. However, a new condition has arisen, which offers more than general cooperation between the Church and these organizations for the teen age boy. Until recently the church school had no clear-cut method for working with the teen age lad, while the boy organizations referred to had such a method, and the Young Men's Christian Association, after years of work, has a force of more or less experienced experts in boy life in its employ. The methods of these boy organizations and the boy experts of the Young Men's Christian Association must have a field of operation, and the best field, of course, is that of the church school, where boys should be found. The Young Men's Christian Association, in its own building, touches but a minute fraction of the boy life of the city in which it operates, and, to touch the city boy life, must get out of its building. It then has a choice of fields, Public Playground, Public School, or Community Betterment. If, however, it is true to the principle of its founding -- to be an arm of the Church among young men -- that which it attempts to do should be tied up to the Church, or, in the case of teen age boys, to the church school. To accomplish the latter, what shall the procedure be? Shall the Young Men's Christian Association win the boy, and then deliver him, saved for service, to the Church, or shall the Young Men's Christian Association work with the Church as part of the Church inside the church school? Common sense would say both ways, and all other ways possible, just so the boy stands saved and in the Church for service. And this is as it should be, and the employed experts of the Young Men's Christian Association should render service to the Church, both within and without the Church -- and this service may be through method, or organization, or both. At all times the weakness of the Church should be the Association's opportunity to help the Church realize herself, and this can best be accomplished by the constructive suggestion that works its way out on the inside of the organization. Little help comes from battering a wall on the outside. At least it does not help the house inside any. Cooperation, then, must be understood as the internal assistance given the Church herself to realize the need and the plan to meet it.

In this regard every organization must clearly understand the church it seeks to aid. Most organizations have singular aims and motives. The Church is a complex organization, with many needs. The church school has many divisions and departments, has two sexes to minister to, embraces all ages, from the cradle to the grave, and usually has no paid officers. Through it all proportion has to be maintained -- balance of organization, fair opportunity for all, young or old, male and female. A plan for the education of the teen age boy will no more solve the problem of the Sunday school than it would the educational, physical employment, or social difficulties of the Young Men's Christian Association. In proper relationship to the other factors of the problem in church school, or Young Men's Christian Association, it would help the whole organization. It surely takes more than plaster to make a house, important as is plaster.

The Sunday school has its own problems of organization, sexes, ages, equipment, equality, fair-play, opportunity, leadership, etc. No organization can help these problems from the outside, or by emphasis on any one phase. Gain in one department may be loss in another. The Sunday school needs proportionate gain.

The Sunday school, therefore, should welcome any organization or method that bids fair to help in the solution of its problems. It should eagerly avail itself, especially, of the aid that the Boy Life Expert of the Young Men's Christian Association can give, thus reducing religious, economic duplication, and achieving united conservation of boy life. On the other hand, the Boy Life Expert of the Young Men's Christian Association should thoroughly acquaint himself with the genius of the Sunday school, the plan of its organization, and the pith of all its problems of sex and age, leadership and training, aims and objectives. He should also know thoroughly the policies of denominational and interdenominational Sunday school bodies, and, where there are denominations in plural quantity, this may mean a task worth while. Sometimes it is a slow process. Surely, so! The Kingdom, with all the wisdom of Heaven, has been twenty centuries in the building, and it has been wrought out in the Church. The contribution that each man or woman makes must be small, but likewise great in its possibilities, if wisely, patiently given.

An organization cannot be permanently helped by introducing into its life the methods of another without the process of assimilation; neither can strength be given merely a part of the body to cure the whole. Organic tone is needed. Intelligent, Sunday school-wide cooperation! This is the invitation of the church school to all existing organizations. The conditions of the challenge are not easy, but the task is interesting and worth while, and the promise of increased efficiency is great indeed.


Lawrance. -- The Cooperation Sunday Schools Desire (American Youth, April, 1911) (.20).

Flood. -- A Federation of Sunday School Clubs (American Youth, April, 1911) (.20).

Alexander. -- Sunday School Use of Association Equipment (American Youth, April, 1911) (.20).

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