Sunday School Restart: Fresh Perspectives on 4 Timeless Tasks
Published: January 11, 2023
When it comes to Sunday school, do you need a fresh perspective?
It’s time to plan the new Sunday school year. As you tirelessly work to serve kids and families, don’t feel overwhelmed or fall into a rut. These four fresh perspectives on timeless tasks can help!
1. A Fresh Perspective on Safety: Ask the experts.
Unsure about the best cleaning solution for classroom items? Wonder what additional health and safety precautions to implement?
When it comes to safety, you may not know all the answers. But someone in your church does! Just think, schoolteachers and child care workers have pioneered new health and safety protocols. So find folks in those professions from your congregation and ask for their advice.
Try this: Brainstorm two people for each of these areas of expertise, then prayerfully consider who to reach out to for advice and direction.
- child care workers
- first responders
Remember, you aren’t a one-man (or woman) show. And you don’t need to be an expert on everything. Let your brothers and sisters in Christ use their gifts and help.
2. A Fresh Perspective on Attendance: Redefine success.
You may be wondering: Will families come back to church this year? Will I have enough kids for age-graded classrooms? What if attendance is down?
For so long, we’ve defined success with numbers. We think we’re doing something right if attendance is up, more kids are on the roster this year, or if offering totals soar. But, friends, ministry is less about math and more about relationships. Less really is more. Consider these unique opportunities that come with attendance challenges:
- Fewer families leads to more familiarity. You’ll recognize and greet kids and families by name!
- Fewer kids leads to more in-depth conversation. You’ll have time to hear kids’ thoughtful responses without cutting them off so everyone gets a chance to talk.
- Fewer kids leads to more focused leaders. Volunteers will be less frazzled and more focused on friendship building.
- Fewer kids leads to more courage. In a smaller, more close-knit group, kids will participate more freely.
When attendance is low, the Holy Spirit still shows up. So be encouraged, embrace less, and watch God work in more ways than you can imagine. Pray Ephesians 3:20-21 over your smaller ministry: “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
3. A Fresh Perspective on Curriculum: Create meaningful Bible discovery—that’s fun!
What makes a good Sunday school curriculum? If you asked your senior pastor, your volunteers, and your kids that question, how would their answers differ? (Go ahead and try it! They may surprise you.)
I suspect that pastors prioritize doctrine and Biblical content, parents want real life application that causes spiritual transformation at home, and kids…well kids just wanna have fun.
Here’s the good news: You can have it all! A good curriculum helps kids experience Bible truths and explore why a friendship with Jesus matters in everyday life in fun, hands-on, interactive ways.
As you access curriculum for this year, remember your target audience—kids! Then assess options through a kid lens with these questions:
- Will a new child know what all the words mean or need further explanation?
- How long will a child need to sit quietly and listen without actively participating?
- Will the lesson intentionally create space for kids and leaders to talk and build friendships?
- Does the lesson focus on one, simple, easy-to-remember Bible Point that matters in kids’ every day lives?
- Does the scope and sequence present overarching Biblical themes in age-appropriate ways?
- Will the curriculum set my volunteers up for success so they can enjoy their work and feel effective?
Need some new curriculum options to review? Check out Group’s Simply Loved and DIG IN curricula!
4. A Fresh Perspective on Volunteers: Take small bites.
Think of a time you bit off more than you can chew…literally. It’s not so fun, is it? That whole cookie looks good, but only chokes you up.
Well, volunteers and prospective volunteers have been chewing on a lot in their lives lately. That’s why they may hesitate to make a big commitment right now. So anticipate their needs and meet them where they are as you invite them to serve. These four solutions to common responses can help!
“I’m not an upfront kind of person.”
Your volunteers may not consider themselves teachers. That’s okay! Emphasize friendship over lectures. For example, Group’s Simply Loved curriculum is written with one prepared leader in mind. All other volunteers simply show up and participate along with kids—and grow their personal friendship with Jesus, too!
“I don’t have time to prepare.”
Let’s say you do have volunteers who love to teach. But still, they just can’t spend more than 5-10 minutes preparing. As you coach them, emphasize routine, structure, and repetition. Point out your curriculum’s steady rhythm from week to week, so even unprepared teachers know what to expect when they pick up the pages. Throw them less curve balls and more strikes right across the plate. Then cheer for all the teacher home runs!
“I can only serve every other week.”
It’s not ideal, but it can work when you create teaching teams. Find two teachers who want a half-time commitment. Then share contact information and entrust them to determine a teaching schedule. Kids will have consistency and volunteers will have some freedom and flexibility!
“I don’t enjoy teaching.”
This response may be less about the volunteer and more about what you’re asking them to do. Is your curriculum setting them up for success? Will volunteers have fun, too? Or are lessons asking them to lead activities that set them up for failure?
It’s easy to focus on the volunteers we don’t have. But as you begin this ministry year, take time to thank God for the faithful folks you do have. Furthermore, be sure to thank those vital volunteers, too. Your intentional leadership and friendship are sure to leave a good taste in their mouths!
Fresh starts need fresh ideas and perspective. So watch for God at work as you launch children’s ministry this year, considering safety, attendance, curriculum, and volunteers. Then, roll up your sleeves, and join in!
Still thinking about Sunday school? Check out these ideas!
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