This week, I’ve been reading Sunday School That Works: The Complete Guide to Maximize Your Children’s Ministry Impact. I love gleaning knowledge from the incredible ministry leaders who contributed to the book.
There’s one thing I’m picking up on as I read: Sunday school is an amazing opportunity to grow kids’ faith and, if done properly, will have kids coming back for more week after week. There are many things kids love about Sunday school, and today I want to share how some of the experts in Sunday School That Works use it to their full advantage.
1. Kids love choices. “One of the real hallmarks of a learner-based environment is the ability for kids to make choices based on their preferences,” says Jennifer Hooks, managing editor for children’s ministry resources at Group. “Learning centers or stations, activity alternatives, and different storytelling options all give kids the option to learn in different ways. Giving kids choices means you’ll see more engaged and motivated learners.”
2. Kids love their families. Tony Kummer is the children’s pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Madison, Indiana. He’s also the founder of ministry-to-children.com. His chapter gives insight on reaching families through Sunday school. “Reaching families hasn’t always been the goal of Sunday school ministries-and very few parents expect it to promote their spiritual unity,” says Tony. “But connecting families spiritually promotes spiritual growth in everyone. Don’t get me wrong; Sunday school ministries have great worth when it comes to spiritually growing individuals, but many church leaders want more than that. They want their Sunday school ministries to empower parents to be the primary faith influencers for their own children beyond Sunday.” Tony offers some easy applications to get parents more involved in your ministry. Send home something other than a take-home page that the whole family can enjoy-a music CD, for example…or even consider starting up a family ministry bookshelf where parents can take materials home.
3. Kids love color. Amy Dolan is lead consultant, founder, and blogger for Lemon Lime Kids, a children’s ministry consulting company. Her chapter, “Overcoming Space Issues,” is such a helpful read. There are so many practical tips that can help churches of any size. I can’t go over all of them here, but I’ll share one that I thought was so simple, but so effective.
“If your space doesn’t allow for permanent decor or for colorful signs, consider purchasing brightly colored magnets to hang along metal door frames,” says Amy. “Placing the magnets along the sides and top of the doorframes provides a bright, cheerful, and engaging welcome for kids. And magnets can be changed for seasons or lesson themes.”
4. Kids love belonging. I think this is a universal thing…who doesn’t want to feel like they belong. I know many churches find that simply having a fun name for their children’s ministry gets kids excited. Stephanie Martin, a frequent contributor to Children’s Ministry Magazine, has seen this in action.
5. Kids love technology. Henry Zonio is the assistant elementary children’s ministry director at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California, and a self-described kid culture junkie. His chapter talks about technology in Sunday school. He gives great tips on how to get kids plugged in…but you can utilize technology to take your game to the next level, too. “You can easily locate material created for Sunday school settings that’s meant to be shown on computers, tablets, or smartphones from most Christian education publishers,” says Henry. “Many Sunday school curriculum publishers offer media you can use to supplement a lesson. You can also find material online. Here are sites I recommend: YouTube, GodTube, and WorshipHouseKids.”
6. Kids love to wonder. Patty Smith is the director of children and family ministries in the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church where she equips children’s ministry leaders in over 400 churches. She is also a frequent presenter at Group’s KidMin Conference. She provides some great thoughts on using kids’ sense of wonder. “Capitalize on kids’ natural curiosity,” says Patty. “Guide learners through ‘wondering moments’ that follow your Bible experiences, where they respond to statements such as:
• I wonder why that happened. What do you think?
• I wonder what it was like to _____________. What do you think?
• I wonder which part of this Bible passage stuck out most to each of you. Describe what made an impact on you.
With ‘wondering’ questions and discussion, accept every idea because there aren’t right or wrong wonderings.”
7. Kids love to serve. Think kids only think about themselves? Not true! We just need to lead them in the right direction and give them the opportunity to reach out. “When you give kids tangible ways to put faith into action, it becomes more meaningful. We want kids to see that their actions can have a direct impact, for better or for worse, on the lives of those around them,” says Anthony Prince, the director of children and family ministry at Glenkirk Church in Los Angeles, California. “But here’s another challenge: While it’s true that kids can see how actions directly impact others through valid efforts such as water conservation, anti-bullying, and disaster assistance campaigns, don’t overlook the efforts of the church to spread the gospel. Kids have an important role to play here, too.”
Check out Sunday School That Works: The Complete Guide to Maximize Your Children’s Ministry Impact. It will give you fresh insight on all things kidmin.