I’ts Sunday, But It’s Not School
What comes to mind for you when you hear Sunday School? I picture a teacher in a room of children telling them every detail they could ever wish to know about a classic Bible story. There would be a craft made during class for kids to take home and show off to parents while reciting everything they can remember about the Bible story. I can also imagine the teacher would ask the kids if anyone had memorized their memory verse yet. The teacher might even hand out a few treats to those who had. The mission of Children’s Ministry at Christ Church is to connect children and families with Jesus Christ. What good does it do if we teach a child everything they need to know about Noah, but we have failed to show them how Noah’s story relates to their relationship with Jesus? Why do we have children memorize specific parts of scripture if we don’t lead them through the hows and whys of the reasons that scriptures apply to their everyday life. I consider what we do on Sundays as Kid’s Worship Service. Why? Because it goes far beyond Sunday. We are teaching kids that Jesus loves them, that Biblical truths apply to their life right now, and that they can relate to those real life people used as examples in the Bible. How do we do that? I’m so glad you asked!
It all starts small! Well, with a Small Group Leader that is. No, we don’t call them teachers. They are there to do more than teach the kids. A Small Group Leader’s role is to connect with each child on a personal level. They are there to share their personal and faith journey experiences with the kids. When a child arrives to their grade level class the Small Group Leaders engage with a friendly hello, a smile, and conversation. We have 2 Small Group Leaders for every grade. Once the entire group has arrived, our elementary kids (1st-3rd Grades) start working on a short activity that is a bit of a brain teaser to get them ready to focus on the lesson of the day. Our Tween groups (4th-6th Grades) use this time to read the day’s Scripture straight from their Bibles. Now that everyone is on the same page, it’s time to go big, or … large!
Small things grow, and our Small Groups move into Large Group! Large Group is where we worship, pray, collect offering, and watch Bible stories being told in a number of different ways. Elementary kids watch a mix of live and video venue storytellers who bring God’s Word to life and give examples of how it applies to their lives. Tweens watch creative reenactments of Bible stories told in a way that is perfect for their abstract thinking minds. Once our teachings are finished, we worship! Both age groups engage with high energy music, interactive worship leaders, and genres that speak to their age.
It’s time to break things down! We finish our Worship Service by heading back to Small Groups. This is where the rubber meets the road! Small Group Leaders lead kids through games, review activities, memory verses, and prayer time. Games are a great way for kids to learn about the idea of community with the others in their Small Group. While reviewing the story of the day, kids take a look at it through our monthly virtue. For example, if we are learning about Courage during this month, we may have a story about Noah. Kids will walk away knowing that it took courage for Noah to build an ark and gather his family on it with beasts of every kind; just as it takes courage for them to be followers and listen to what God tells them today. Memory verses are selected monthly to go along with the virtue. Kids and leaders learn the verse by playing memory games, writing the verse and spelling it out so they not only get the verse memorized but applied to their lives in a real way. Practicing prayer helps kids learn to praise God and ask Him for help when they need it. Prayer activities also let the Small Group Leaders know how they can be praying for each child throughout the week. Every single one of these activities is designed to help leaders and kids create lasting bonds not just between themselves and Jesus but with each other as well.
Aren’t you happy you asked how we teach kids so much more than a Bible story? Now you know everything a child experiences when they step through their classroom door any given Sunday. We aren’t teaching them about only the Bible stories and characters. We are showing them through every way possible that the stories are history, the characters were real people, and that the Bible is a living document that applies very much to their everyday life!
By Amanda Cates
Director of Kid Connection and Tween Ministries