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The Top-6 Christian Education Models

Take a look at the top-6 Christian education models to keep your Sunday morning routine from being on the verge of becoming prehistoric. Dig into the 6 most popular Christian education models to unearth a living choice for your ministry.

There’s no right or wrong model for Christian education — only a model that works best for your church. So many factors determine your Christian education model — your facility, your volunteer base, and your mission statement and values as a ministry. In addition, you have unique needs, children, and volunteers that dictate how your Christian education should be packaged.

God knows your needs and can work through your church’s strengths and weaknesses to draw children toward the cross. Sift through our finds to determine which model — or hybrid of models — is best for you.


The self-contained classroom structure indicates that kids remain in their age-specific classrooms with their teachers for the entire Christian education time.

The Treasure Age-specific classrooms are a way to foster a safe, comfortable environment conducive to kids sharing and growing together in their faith as they build relationships with their teachers. A myriad of curriculum choices exists for self-contained classrooms. Volunteers tend to be comfortable with this type of model because they’re in control of what goes on as they’re guided by curriculum. Parents readily understand the structure because it’s what they’ve experienced.

The Dirt on Challenges Self-contained classrooms require each teacher to be a one-man or one-woman show-artist, chef, actor, storyteller, game guru, and shepherd-whether those things are in the teacher’s specific area of expertise or not. This model requires a great deal of space because a church needs a classroom for every 20 to 30 kids. Also, children in your church may not fall into specific age groups as delineated by your curriculum. So small churches may have to combine ages, and larger churches may have two or three separate classrooms for the same age group.

Volunteer Preservation Volunteers who consistently teach classes feel connected and valued as they get to know the kids and play a significant role in their faith development. Volunteers understand clearly what you’re asking them to do, so that’s one hurdle you don’t have to overcome with recruiting. However, many people can be intimidated by the one-man- or one-woman-show approach, and burnout in this model is high.

Our Archaeological Notes Determine if this model is best for you by looking at these key areas:

Facility-This model is dependent on your facility having adequate classrooms. You need to have at least 20 to 30 square feet per child in each age-specific class.

Volunteer Base-You’ll need two teachers to teach each age group of children so you ensure that there are two adults with children at all times for safety reasons.

Mission and Values-This model is for you if you value tradition, following a scope and sequence step by step, using age-appropriate methods for each child, and maintaining a comfort level for parents, teachers, and church leadership.

Digging Tips-To find the best curriculum for your self-contained classrooms, check out our curriculum selection guide.


The large group/small group model involves kids of all ages meeting together in a large room for worship and Bible story presentation. Then the kids meet with small group leaders to focus on discipleship activities.

The Treasure – Kids build relationships with their small group leaders and one another. In this model, kids also have the benefit of corporate worship. Small group leaders are facilitators instead of teachers, so they do less preparation and have the opportunity to go deeper with kids.

“Some kids learn about God best in a dynamic, creative setting like large group,” says David Staal, Promiseland Director for the Willow Creek Association. “Others draw closer to God while in a more intimate, community setting. Many thrive in a mixture of the two because in small group, they dive deeper into the Bible lesson they just learned in large group.”

The Dirt on Challenges – This model is volunteer intensive. In addition to the one small group leader for each group of 10 or less, you need a teaching team and a worship leader or worship band. Resources for this model are scarce because few publishing companies have created curriculum for this model. Finally, your facility may limit this model if you don’t have a large meeting room.

Volunteer Preservation In some ways it’s easier to recruit for this model because it’s not a one-man or one-woman show. Each volunteer concentrates on one specific task. The one-task approach makes volunteering much more approachable for people. In addition, each person has the responsibility of a piece of the education hour rather than the entire time.

Our Archaeological Notes– Determine if this model is best for you by looking at these key areas:

Facility-This model is dependent on your facility having a large meeting space for the large group time. You also need to have space for small groups to spread out so they don’t distract one another. However, for security reasons, remember that you want to keep small groups in view so you never have an adult alone with a child.

Volunteer Base-The large group/small group structure requires three kinds of volunteers — small group leaders, large group teachers, and worship leaders.

Mission and Values-This model is for you if you value showmanship, relationship building, and assigning volunteers according to their gifts.

Digging Tips –– Large group/small group Sunday school has been around for some time, but it’s been refined and popularized by Willow Creek Community Church’s Promiseland children’s ministry in Barrington, Illinois.

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The Top-6 Christian Education Models

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