Resource, Article

Teaching children means sharing the truth of Scripture with them—but it’s even more important to give them opportunities to put what they believe into practice. 

November 25, 2015 1 0 comments
Resource, Curriculum

We are frequently asked, “Do you have any children's ministry sessions on the Lord’s Supper?” Today I’m excited to tell you that we can finally answer, “Yes, we do!”  

November 2, 2015 1 0 comments
Resource, Article

Sunday school is not the only game in town—sports events, birthday parties, and other celebrations are often scheduled for Sunday mornings too. How do we build community with these challenges?

October 21, 2015 2 0 comments
Resource, Article

Where are seeds of faith first planted by the Holy Spirit? Within the family! But the church also partners with the family in this process. Keep reading to find ways to help parents nurture faith. 

October 6, 2015 1 1 comments
Resource, Activity or Game

I recently found a fabulous pattern for making wonderful stand-up Bible story characters. I’ve listed three ideas for how you might use them but I'm sure there are many more! 

October 5, 2015 1 0 comments

Mrs. Brown was a great story teller. Back then we used flannel boards instead of videos, and although the images weren’t digital, she made Bible stories come to life...

September 24, 2015 1 0 comments
Resource, Drama

Check out these suggestions and ideas from the Ministry Tools Resource Center on how to use puppets as a teaching method for Sunday School! 

September 1, 2015 0 0 comments

Does your congregation welcome children to the Lord's Supper but also offer a children's ministry program during worship? If so, find ideas for how to make this transition go smoothly! 

August 31, 2015 2 0 comments
Resource, Article

Now you’re a leader—kids will be coming through your door looking for inspiration, affirmation, knowledge. That’s a tall order. Where do you start?

August 31, 2015 0 0 comments

An hour in a children’s ministry program gives children the chance to spend time living into and out of God’s story but when we omit the church and home connection, children are missing out. 

August 24, 2015 2 1 comments

At the beginning of the school year, my church holds a "Promotion Sunday" for Sunday School. Any suggestions for activities to entice folks that don't normally come to Sunday School?

August 18, 2015 0 1 comments

The room fell silent for a few minutes as the impact of that question sunk in. It was profoundly moving to all of us in the classroom, and also to the girl's parents when we chatted about it later. 


June 18, 2015 2 0 comments

More than 400 churches have used Faith Alive’s children’s ministry curriculum to deepen and expand the faith of its children! Do you know what Sunday school curriculum your church uses?

April 27, 2015 3 1 comments
Resource, Curriculum

Dwell builds on the best features of Walk With Me and introduces some new things that Walk With Me users told us they wanted to see in a new children's ministry curriculum!

April 10, 2015 0 0 comments

What do the walls in your church tell your congregation---particularly the children---about what you value? Use this idea to make your walls another way to tell God's story.

February 23, 2015 2 0 comments

The Discipleship and Faith Formation Ministry launched the God Loves Me crowd funding campaign this week. Here's why.

January 23, 2015 1 0 comments
Resource, Devotional

Bless the families in your congregation with this free Christmas devotional and plant a seed to encourage them to resolve to talk about faith and to spend time together in God's story each day in the New Year.

December 4, 2014 1 1 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

“Recommendations for the best Christmas children’s story book…GO!” was the challenge. Here are the responses.

December 1, 2014 0 2 comments
Resource, Type Not Listed

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and, if you’re feeling pressure to put on a pageant but haven’t yet nailed down the details, here are some ideas.

November 18, 2014 0 0 comments

It happens all the time in our ministries—new babies are born, family dynamics change, a time of adjustment occurs, until finally a new normal is established.

October 21, 2014 1 3 comments

Have you come across something or developed something to help kids learn about and experience the spiritual habit of fasting? By fasting, I don't necessarily mean fasting from food, but abstaining from something for a specific period of time for the sake of seeking God more fully.

October 20, 2014 0 0 comments

With just 40 minutes for Sunday school it's been hard for me to squeeze in prayer time. What's worked for you? I need some ideas!

September 30, 2014 0 3 comments

How can we make listening a key part of our time together with kids?

September 9, 2014 1 0 comments
Resource, Activity or Game

I always like to spend a few minutes playing a getting-to-know-you game on the first day of Sunday school. Here are two of my favorites.

September 2, 2014 0 0 comments

The answer seems obvious: to teach the Bible story or lesson we've been assigned. But I wonder if it's more nuanced than that.

August 26, 2014 2 3 comments



These look great! 

Thanks for this helpful post, Angie!

posted in: Families First

Love this! How easy it is (for adults, too) to miss the opportunity to engage in the "Sunday" message. My church has a weekly guide (via an app on my phone) to stay connected to the sermon (such as Bible verses, songs, and personal growth challenges) that are SUCH a valuable resource if I take the time to use them. 


A celebration is a great way to start of a new Sunday School year.  Here are a few ideas that you could do with your breakfast: 

  • Chose some of the many Minute to Win It games available online.  Play with teams mixing children, teens and adults so everyone gets to know each other better.
  • Set out strips of paper for making a paper chain.  As people enters they write their names on 5 of the strips.  Include some strips with your Sunday school class name on it (like first grade.) Mix up the strips and each person makes a paper chain with seven of the strips.  Each day during the next week individuals tear one strip off the chain and pray for that person or class.
  • Contact a local discovery center, college or zoo and ask them to bring in animals for a petting zoo.  Encourage pictures to be taken and texted to you.  Print the pictures and hand then out after worship with the words “Remember our Sunday School program in your prayers.”
  • During the celebration, hand out drawstring bags or wrist bands with your church log.  Encourage everyone to wear them during the week and tell others to come join the fun at Sunday School next Sunday.

Think about all those children who are learning about the love of Jesus! That's amazing!

What a wonderful idea, Janice! (My tear inducing picture book is Koala Lou by Mem Fox. It's a great example of unconditional love.)  

We have started reading 24 Christmas books for 24 days of Dec. at our house. I admit they aren't all Christian books, but there are some really delightful books out there. Sunday I cried reading "An Orange for Frankie" byPatricia Polacco with Abby and laughed at "Froggy's Best Christmas." I also love Jan Brett's "The Animals' Santa." Elizabeth read a board book to me this morning "The Christmas Story" by Patricia Pingry. "The Crippled Lamb" by Max Lucado is beautiful! Oh, the list goes on...


Beautiful words, Jolanda. Thanks for the many ways you've supported children's ministries in the CRC and beyond. Blessings on this new phase. We trust that God will nudge someone to continue the good work you've begun here on the Sunday School section of The Network.

Thanks for all the ways you have blessed us a children's ministry leaders, Jo! And thanks for the hope-filled encouragement you've given us in this post. We will miss you! 

Congratulations and best wishes for you and your son! 

Thanks for the advice, Mary & John! Sounds like starting right off with prayer would be the best plan. Maybe I'll ask them to fill out a prayer request card as they walk in the door and place it in a bowl. Then we could draw the cards and pray for each other before we move into the story...

Prayer may be the best teaching moment of the whole class.   If you think you are squeezing prayer in, that will send a subliminal message about the importance of prayer.  So I would suggest that prayer is as much of a priority as anything, and therefore the rest of the class can fit around the prayer.  Don't squeeze in the prayer;  squeeze in the rest.

I teach 4th/5th and I prefer to start with prayer to set the tone and clear our minds. If I think it's going to take too much time to cover each request individually, we share them as a group, and I cover all of them in one prayer (Lord, you know all of our concerns, both spoken and unspoken, etc.).

Hi Karen,

Thank you for the guidance.  This litany will do nicely!

Peace to you!


Hi Leon, 

On the Dwell curriculum site there is a free downloadable Commissioning Litany that might be helpful. I love it because it involves children too!  Here's the link:

Karen De Boer, Discipleship and Faith Formation Ministries, CRCNA



Hello Jolanda,

Thank you for this article.  Just what I needed to hear as we begin another season of Sunday School in our local church!  I agree: the best gift we can give our students is a love for God's Word and a transformed self.

Say, we are having a Sunday School kick-off this Sunday.  Do you have any prayers and blessings for such an occasion?

Thank you kindly and God bless!

--Leon H. Johnston

Lacombe, AB

That's awesome, Reg! It's so important that kids feel that they are part of the whole church community from a very young age and that their gifts and contributions matter. 

A few years ago, at First CRC Orillia, the stewardship team provided envelopes for the Sunday School classes. Parents received the tax receipt and the children received a letter showing how much they had donated for the year, We used the "World Renew Catalog" and about every six months the children decided what they would buy. We then purchased the items and asked "World Renew" to send a letter thanking the children. In addition, the stewardship team would bring cake and ice cream to the Sunday School to celebrate and to confirm what items had been purchased. . A PowerPoint presentation of the children's ministry was shown to the congregation during "children's time" at front of church. Giving went up substantially.

Also we gave each child a bank that had three compartments. One for giving, another for saving and a third for spending.



What a great idea! Thanks for sharing, Jamie. Love the way you kept track of how much you raised! 

This past year, our kids and congregation brought in non-perishable items each week for a local food bank.  We weighed all the items each month or so and kept track with a North American animal of that weight-- so at 395lbs we had a harp seal, 621lbs polar bear, 794lbs grizzly bear, etc.  The deacons came on board and encouraged the whole congregation to help too, we ended up donating a total 1129lbs of goods... a (smallish) moose!

Thanks for posting about this excellent resource. We believe it's one of the best tools available for equipping children and youth with the skills they need to actively participate in creating a safe environment for themselves and others. It will help build a culture of respect and healthy relationships for the next generation in our churches. Now is the time to get ready for Fall and plan on adding Circle of Grace to your church school curriculum.

Because we believe in it so much, Safe Church Ministry is supplementing the cost for this program - it's available from Safe Church Ministry to CRC, and and now also to RCA congregations, for only $25. (The information on our website has not yet been updated to reflect this - 50 churches received the program free of charge to pilot the project - that phase is now over). Here's what one CRC had to say about Circle of Grace, "The program is very good. It ties in well with what the kids are already learning ... The program is easy to adjust for a small church. We did not have any difficulty combining the classes and using lessons from multiple grades ... The parent information was a good addition to send home as well ... I would say it was a success."



Nice ideas.  Thanks for sharing.

Children and worship is a wonderful program! It really helps kids connect with God and learn to wonder about God. We have it at my church and there are several others in my area that have that program. I hope others will respond with more detailed accounts of how they've experienced it at their church. There is a space for Children & Worship on the Network, so feel free to post other questions and thoughts here.  

Hey Jolanda,

I thought this was a great post!  I too share your passion for discipling children and not just teaching them about God but to experience God as well.. I recently attended a training on Children & Worship which really focuses on the experience of God for kids and models what adults do on Sunday mornings.. I would really appreciate feedback of anyone who uses this in the CRC?  How have you experienced it at your church?

Not to worry, Bill. I don't represent the voice of Synod when I suggest it's worthwhile for churches to consider hiring a special needs coordinator. I'm just a volunteer Sunday school coordinator and former church staff member who sees value in the idea. 

The way the US is going, the government/bureaucratic/corporate goal is for every person to consider himself in "special need." I suppose it is because it builds the money machine in DC. When every voter is getting some kind of special dole every month the incumbents will be pragmatically locked into their jobs. 

For the last 20 years every budget passed by synod is over priced by 40% or so. The US is still in a working class recession. For Synod and its departments to suggest that local congregations hire more personnel is (words I don't put into print).   



We're so glad you found the seminar helpful, particularly the idea of hiring a "special needs coordinator". We hope this blog post will get other congregations thinking about steps they can take to include and support persons at all levels of ability in their faith community. Thanks for sharing!

Katie at CLC Network

Jolanda, thanks for this post. Excellent idea. For churches that simply cannot afford to pay a staff person, Disability Concerns encourages them to ask at least one member to be a church disability advocate to help the church be intentional about ministry with people who have disabilities. Nearly 600 volunteers serve as disability advocates in CRC churches. In addition, our ministry provides a variety of resources for people who serve as volunteer disability advocates or paid special needs coordinators.  

Hi Greg, 

Madison is doing something very interesting to tie together their children's program with the Sunday morning sermon series. From what I understand the pastoral team is preaching through the stories in the The Jesus Storybook Bible and Kristin, the director of children's discipleship is using that storybook Bible to develop the content for the children's large and small group time. I would encourage you to contact Kristin Buursma to learn more about what they are doing. Her contact information is available through the staff director on the Madison Square website page. I'm sure she would enjoy talking with you!

You are correct that many children's ministry resources divide children by grade level. To find one that groups children in a broader age range you'll want to look for curriculum with a large group/small group format like the Kid Connection curriculum from Faith Alive, which divides in groups of K-3, and 4-6. Those are still smaller age ranges than what Madison does, but it is an example of a curriculum that can be used in a multi-age context. I have used it with an even broader age range because the story is the same for all K-6th graders. 

I hope that helps! 


You mention that Madison Square has adapted or developed materials for their Sunday School program.  Could you post more details on what curriculum they use?  How they've adapted it?  Most curricula continues to isolate one age group from the other.  We, too, have been emphasizing discipleship in the context of multi-generational relationships and would be interested in the specifics of how others have done this with respect to their educational ministries. 

Thanks for the great post!

Greg Linnell, Education Committee Chair, Community CRC, Kitchener, Ontario

That is an excellent point, thanks Katie! Thanks for linking the article from the CLC Network blog, it's very helpful. 

These are great ideas, Jolanda! I think churches can also prepare new individuals and families ahead of time by offering plenty of details on their website and including photos of the layout of the building, greeters they can expect to meet, typical ways people worship (raise hands, use ribbons, etc.), and how communion is served. Photos can be really helpful for individuals who benefit from a visual preview beforehand. You can read more about offering a preview on the CLC Network blog, Making Us Whole

Thanks Kim! I got a little help from Faith Alive's editor Karen DeBoer on the last week's article--she's full of great ideas. She has a Beat the Winter Blah's dinner at home every year with her husband and kids. They wear shorts, cook burgers, and pretend it's 80 and sunny! So you are right, these ideas transfer to other contexts too!

Jolanda - another great idea (like last week's "Beat the Winter Blahs"). Not only do these sound like great ideas to use with kids but I know some adult groups that could benefit from these as well!  Thanks for helping us all to keep things "fresh" in ministry.


posted in: It's For Me Too!

As I look at the accompanying illustration saying "Jesus died for you"  J.I. Packer's commentary in his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God immediately comes to mind: He writes: "The fact is that the New Testament never calls on any man to repent on the ground that Christ died specifically and particularly for him. The basis on which the New Testament invites sinners to faith in Christ is simply that they need him, and that he offers himself to them and that those who receive him are promised all the benefits that his death secured for his people. What is universal and all-inclusive in the New Testament is the invitation to faith and the promise of salvation to all who believe."   

posted in: It's For Me Too!

From my experience in various teaching situations, not just with children but in leading Bible studies, youth groups, support groups, etc. I would say absolutely that the Lord uses it to teach me! I learn so much in the experience of teaching others. My prayer is that it's good for the other student learners as well. And because we have a great God who can use even me; I have hope that they also learn and experience his goodness.

posted in: It's For Me Too!

Thanks Leon! We've already had one snow day so I'll be recalculating for sure!

Hello Jolanda,

Thank you for writing yet another interesting and encouraging article about the teaching ministry. 

I agree: January is a good time to make course corrections--to learn from the first "semester" of Sunday School and improve things for the second "semester." 

May the Lord continue to bless our Sunday School teachers and students. 

And may he also bless your teaching ministry!


Thanks Jolanda,

This is a excellent Sunday School survey for our churches. We are always looking for evaluation tools. 

My all-time favorite Christmas storybook is The Nativity by Julie Vivas. The illustrations are divine!


Love this book!  It has become a tradition in our family and it holds the attention of even the littlest ones (one who is almost 1 year old). 

Here's an update--I've tried it, and I like it! Fresh, interactive art, and stories that are faithful to the text. There aren't very many Bible stories yet, but the app indicates that more are coming. What are your thoughts?

Hello, Try this pintrest site I created for showing appreciation to volunteers. You may also find these articles helpful, 30 Ideas for Calling, Keeping, and Celebrating VolunteersMeaningful Meetings, Celebrating Success, and Time for a Checkup

Wow, great ideas! Thanks so much Deb.

Rachel: As the parent of a child with some behavioural challenges and as a long-time teacher (and former Sunday school co-ordinator), may I weigh in witha few quick suggestions in addition to the excellent resources Jolanda and Mark have cited? A bonus: I find these 'work' well with so-called mainstream kids as well:

-- provide leadership opportunities for every child, including the ones who offer the biggest challenges. (For example: 'Jamal, you're great at drawing - how do you think you would show us what the commandment 'don't make idols' looks like?') Every person needs to know s/he has gifts, not just problems, to share.

-- co-opt the parent whenever possible in solutions, and make it a we/us thing instead of you/her problem. Something like, 'We're sensing that Alicia is restless/anxious/distracted/unhappy in class and we want her and you both to know this is a safe/welcoming/joyful place for her. Do you have any suggestions that work best at home when she's feeling this way?' If you team-teach the class, chat with those other teachers as well. (Do NOT make it an item for general discussion among an entire teaching team; that path is fraught with the danger of alienating that family, however inadvertently, by making them seem as if they're the target of an intervention, aka gossip) 

- let other children learn from your cues in relating to this child of God. If you show patience, good humour and flexibility, your other students will be more likely to do so as well; that empathy will reduce a lot of tension in you, and help stretch God's encircling arms around the entire classroom.

--allow for silly sometimes, but put a framework around it. I'm teaching a class that, last year, learned how to make paper airplanes from another teacher. At first I thought, 'no way are they making paper airplanes in this class,' until I realized they really like creating paper planes and it could be a teaching tool almost as much as a Dwell story symbol is. So, now we make paper airplanes after some lessons while reflecting on how we plan to integrate what we've learned into the upcoming week. For your class, it might be tossing a beach ball or hopping on one foot while reciting an element of the Bible story. (This is my new 'theology of origami' theory!)

-- be open to good surprises even if it makes you feel like your class is upside-down.. This came home to me a few years ago when one child - whose multitude of challenges made a structured, linear lesson feel like an impossibility - would burst out with some amazing God-inspired questions and comments that generated food for discussion for the whole class.  It sometimes meant abandoning the lesson I'd planned  in order to recognize that , more often than we might think, God comes to us in the challenging voice of an 8-year-old.

I know this is a long message. Hope I've been helpful. Blessings,


Rachel, the Inclusion Handbook from RCA/CRC Disability Concerns has several articles that deal with challenging behaviors. Also, I was just talking with Barbara Newman today about this very issue. She suggests that the key questions to adapting material to children with special needs are these: what is the person good at? What does he/she find difficult? and (most importantly) what can the person do? By asking what CAN he/she do, that immediately gives you some direction about how to adapt. For example, if he/she uses a communication board, then he/she can use that for response rather than verbal response. If he/she is not good at listening but is very good with tactile stimulation, give him/her a figurine that relates to the story. There are a variety of forms in the back of Autism and Your Church (by Barbara Newman) that also will be very helpful to you. I think that book has suggestions for challenging behaviors as well (whether or not the child has autism).

A lot of our issues are with classroom management. Any suggestions? 

Hi Rachel, great question. This link on the Dwell website offers some helpful ideas and suggested resources with tips for making the classroom a faith nurturing place for children with special needs. You may also want to check out the Goodbye Classroom Chaos workshop. If you read through it you'll find lots of helpful ideas for creating structure and routines that may address some of the challenges you're facing.

The best source I know of for support and training would be the CLC Network. They offer something called the GLUE, which their website describes as "a step-by-step process that includes a spectrum of tools to aid faith communities in doing 'ministry with' rather than 'ministry to' people with disabilities."

I have learned a ton from Barb Newman's workshops and presentations. She is the director of church services at the CLC Network and the author of the GLUE Training Manual. She travels to speak and train, so keep your eyes out for local workshops offered by her and see if you can connect with the CLC Network to learn what kind of training is happening in your area! They may recommend that you pick up a GLUE manual too.  



I am sure that there are many talented people who who be pleased to electronically create teaching material to be posted on line. It could be be downloaded for no cost for teaching and evangelism. If "WWW.CRCNA.ORG" was added as a footer to every page it be advertising for the CRC.

posted in: Is It Worth It?



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