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Advent is almost here! During this busy holiday season celebrating Advent can help us focus our attention on the coming of Christ. Do you plan to do anything special with your class? 

November 18, 2013 0 0 comments
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When I heard that members of Faith Church (RCA) in Dyer, Indiana had developed a Heidelberg Catechism game for kids I just had to get a copy. I’m always looking for resources to recommend to parents for starting faith conversations at home, or to Sunday school teachers for the downtime as everyone is arriving for class.

November 3, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

We have a few special needs children in our congregation. Are their resources to help me (the Children's pastor) to learn how to help them best learn so that I can teach my Dwell teachers. We have some behavior issues that are the biggest concern. These behavior issues are linked to the child's...

October 28, 2013 0 5 comments
Resource, Article

When was the last time you taught a Sunday school lesson on a Psalm? (Okay, other than Psalm 23?)

October 23, 2013 0 0 comments
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The planning process is where the rubber meets the road—we’ve been learning, exploring, and thinking during the research phase, but now it’s time to get down to business! In the planning phase we begin asking practical questions like how children will be grouped. In broad age level grouping, K-3 and 4-6 for example, or standard grade levels, preschool, K-1, 2-3, etc? What kinds of children and leader’s resources would be helpful for teaching and learning...

October 15, 2013 0 0 comments
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I’ve spent most of my life and ministry in small congregations with limited budgets. So when I see the cost of leader’s guides and student pieces adding up, I feel the sticker shock...

October 8, 2013 0 1 comments
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Looking for a litany to use for commissioning your Sunday school team? Here are some sources to check out ...  

September 5, 2013 0 2 comments
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It's September! Are you ready to share the stories of faith? To create space for wonder, awe, worship, and imagination? Sometimes the thing that takes a lesson from excellent to amazing is the little spark of creativity that piques kid's interest.

September 3, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

When does your Sunday school program begin, and what are you doing to kick it off?

September 3, 2013 0 4 comments
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No one likes to make rules or enforce them, but ministry is much more managable when the expectations are clear! Here's what one church is doing to start the Sunday School season with high standards.  

August 22, 2013 0 0 comments
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Lately a lot of my phone conversations have started like this, “I have two kindergartners, one second grader, and a fifth grader, what would you recommend?” Or, a church may have been using a grade level curriculum designed for 4th and 5th graders with a class of 3rd 4th and 5th graders. Now they are ready to loop back to year 1, but the kids who were in 3rd grade when they started have already had those exact lessons… Now what? Stretch the 2nd-3rd grade material to work for a year? Dip into the 6-8th grade material?

August 19, 2013 0 0 comments
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Well folks, its curriculum selection season. Over the next several weeks I’m going to share some of these Q&A’s in a new series I'm calling Curriculum Q&A’s. (Catchy, right?)

July 30, 2013 0 0 comments
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Looking for new ideas for praying with kids in your classroom next season? Check out these creative prayer practices collected on Pinterest by our friends at the NC Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

July 18, 2013 0 0 comments
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Each season provides an opportunity for updating your records for the kids in your program. I've seen many variations of registration forms, but most include these basics . . .

July 15, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

I am retiring this year as Sunday school co-ordinator at our church after a joyful decade in that role. I want to make sure the hand-off to our new co-ordinator is as smooth as possible -- that I offer guidance/help where needed, while giving grace and space for the new co-ordinator to put her...

July 9, 2013 0 1 comments
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Sophie, my fifteen month old daughter, spends two days a week at daycare. I was eager to attend the first parent conference this spring to hear about what she's learning and how they see her developing. What if the same thing happened in our children and youth ministry programs?

June 25, 2013 0 0 comments
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With food allergies on the rise, are Sunday school snacks worth the risk? Check out these lists of safe snacks that Community Reformed put together for their children's ministry. What are you doing to keep the kids in your care safe?

June 18, 2013 0 3 comments
Blog

VBS is a special time. Try these ideas for building a summer ministry team and planning an unforgettable week for your kids!  

June 11, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Procedure

Looking for a way to ease the August stress of searching for volunteers? Check out this blog post from veteran children’s minister, Linda Freeman, who offers week by week ideas for planning a month long focus on volunteer recruitment.

May 20, 2013 0 0 comments
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Many Sunday schools take a break during the summer months. If yours is one of them, how do you say goodbye to your class as you send them off to enjoy the sunshine? If you’re coming to your last week of Sunday school, consider setting aside time do something special. Here are a few ideas. . .

May 14, 2013 0 0 comments
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A brunch, a blessing, a bowl full of chocolate—how will you thank your team at the end of this season? Check out these fun ideas I found on Pinterest. Here are a few of my favorites...

May 7, 2013 0 3 comments
Q&A

I just spoke with a Presbyterian pastor who is interested in using clips from the History channel's The Bible show as part of his adult education class. He is looking for a study guide or questions that he could use along with clips to spark discussion and help everyone reflect on the stories....

May 1, 2013 0 3 comments
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As the sun begins to shine and you spend more time outside, it’s easy to let thoughts of September slip out of mind. But a little preplanning now could go a long way in saving you money and time next season. Consider these ideas for stretching your Sunday school budget:

April 29, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Questionnaire

Here is an easy tool you can use to give voice to your leader's joys and concerns! You may coordinate the program, but unless you're in the classroom each week it's hard to know exactly how things are going. This simple questionnaire, adapted from the one in Sunday School That Really Works by...

April 23, 2013 0 2 comments
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As the Sunday school season wraps up it's fitting to ask, what will next season look like? What could be new, different, fresh? What should remain the same or be enhanced? As you evaluate your programs and dream about the future consider...

April 22, 2013 0 0 comments

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I will consider looking at Faith Alive's material first, which I usually do.  Unfortunately, I often have to look through a great deal of material before I find something that is both interesting and challenging.  Sometimes I just find it a better use of my time to look at curriculum from other publishers that I know are still Reformed in their thinking but don't water down their material.

The last I saw of the material was several years ago. At that time the stories that went with the lesson were not stories that our 4th grade students could relate to. Several of the teachers found the lessons very difficult to teach. As I wrote I am willing to look at the lessons again, but changing material is difficult and once changed difficult to go back. We will be moving to a new Catechism material for the 9th and 10 grades next year. It is my hope that Faith Alive will have materials that we can use.

Royce - What do you mean by "the material had an urban slant"?

I would love to order from FaithAlive resources for our church and have ordered the catalogue for next year. When our church stopped ordering from FaithAlive the material had an urban slant that was difficult to teach to our small town and rural children and appeared to us to have lost the reformed foundation. I am hopeful that there is now material that will fit our congregation and its needs. It appears to me that our congregation was not the only one that had problems with the material. Shall we say it appears churches voted with their feet?

OK....now give us some concrete examples (about a dozen or so) of how that would look like. Faith, Prayer, Educational, Worship, Educational Frameworks (especially interested in that one) LMK....sparked my creative interest....

Thanks for your post.  I have a great admiration of anyone who's dedicated to thinking creatively about teaching doctrine to our children.  After teaching now for nearly 20 years I may be a bit biased, but I'd submit that passing down these Biblical truths as summarized in our confessions to new generations is the most important job in the church - and one of the toughest.

These 'thinking out of the box' ideas can have great impact (though I have no idea how I'd express the church's educational goals using blocks), but these sort of pedagogical methods should be used very sparingly lest we forget about what is in the box itself.  I say this because I grew up in the CRC in the 80's when catechism and doctrine were totally shoved out the door to make room for one 'outside the box' lesson after another designed to let us express ourselves, develop strong self esteems, stay away from sex and drugs, and learn about Jesus solely in the context of the 'relationship' he had with us.  The result with many of my classmates was to express themselves through sex and drugs which led to occasionally using Jesus simply as a therapy for the resulting poor self esteems.  I thank God that I discovered our confessions once when paging through the back of the Psalter Hymnal one morning while bored in church and was astounded at what I read.

Over the years I've had classes where I was literally floored by the discussion I had with junior high kids- far deeper and more honest that what I've ever had with adults.  I've also had years like what I'm having right now: a group of extremely quiet kids who sit on their hands and stare at the table.  I did need to change my tactics this year- more lecture rather than guided discussions, but even though I'm not getting magificant jaw dropping repsonses from this group it doesn't mean they're not learning.

Our confessions help answer the four primary questions of life - Who is God, who am I, how am I saved, and how should I live in response?  These are questions that teens are begging to have answered.  Sometimes they just don't know it because everything in our culture is designed to distract us from thinking deeply.  We - especially our kids - are bombarded by media, busyness and communications that don't exceed 150 characters and always end in haha lol. 

I did go through a phase where I made lots of posters and other visual aids, but I soon realized that I can't compete with the world.  My efforts were simply lost in the noise and in some cases adding to the distraction.  I learned not to be afraid of the quiet.  Let them squirm in awkward silence from time to time.  I've seen blessing in making a classroom void of worldly distraction- where all is shut off except for God's Word.  It's tough for the first month or two of each year because it's so different, but one by one they do come to appreciate it and even look forward to it.

We are in the world view building business when teaching Sunday School.  What we teach them now will directly affect them for the rest of their life.  Legos, crayons, skits, videos, stories, and other such methods might occasionally help accentuate a point, but they are all double edged swords.  We - I - need to learn to just get out of the way of the Gospel.

Thank you Laura for the spark of creativity!

While I have used readings, and flipcharts, and videos to prompt discussion in the Profession of Faith Class, I am now inspired to use crayons and cover the table with doodling paper. Rather than just me drawing on the flipchart, I'll get these 'once children of our church' - now adults - to render their own drawing of the Church as we talk about the history of the church, and their depiction of who God is when we talk about the God who reveals himself, etc, etc.

Thanks for the spark!

This is a great idea! I'm going to try it. Thanks : )

We also use Psalms for Young Children with our three little ones and it's great. The kids browse through and each pick a Psalm to read (usually based on how the artwork fits their mood that day - which is itself illuminating). I've even used it for council meeting devotions - just for something less wordy and more visually rich. It's beautiful and helps the Psalms come alive in a new way.

Hi Marvis,  I am not aware of many resources.  My husband Bob and I are working on this for a project.  Eerdman's has a great picture book called Psalms for Young Children by Marie Helene Deval.  Here is also a list of other Psalms picture books from the Calvin Institure of Christian Worship web site.  Maybe other people have suggestions I'm not aware of..  

Laura, I agree Psalms are wonderful for kids as well as us "grown-ups." I wonder if you have any resources you can recommend to use with kids? Our small group is using Eugene Peterson's Psalms, Prayers of the Heart. It's excellent and could be used by young adults. But maybe you or others know of materials for using the Psalms with younger children?

That would be terrific! I know our part time staff is not always able to attend these events at the original presentation time, but I know these are archived and we would appreciate being able to access the archived version.

Thanks!

This could be a perfect topic for a webinar (see the series we're putting together at www.crcna.org/webinars). Maybe we could see if Beth is willing to do her same presentation in a webinar format.

If there's some interest in that, we can check into it. Thoughts?

For the sake of the staff I work with, I am going to beg: is there any way that the brochures you mentioned and/or any other materials might be made available online? :)

Our church has also recently made the decision to allow children at the Lord's Supper and just this morning we met to begin talking about how this will affect youth ministry and how we can best guide our youth in faith. We are hungry for resources and  help, and would be so grateful if any of this information can be shared.

Thank you!

Videos have good potential for passive education, but the danger is a lack of active participation by the "watchers".   This lack of active participation reduces the active learning, and also reduces the potential of community building and spiritual growth.  So a good balance needs to be found, with the priority of active participation. 

 

DVDs used for music might be the only alternative in some cases, but in terms of personal development of the congregation and its members, even poorly played instruments can be superior to dvds.   Sometimes even acapella singing might be preferred, as praising God needs to be done personally, and not left for someone else (such as an impersonal dvd or a hired choir) to do it for you.  

I think it is always encouraging to see our young ones worshiping.  In our church and most all churches Sunday school is valued as a critical place to teach the love of Jesus in a smaller, age appropriate environment.  I'm sure your congregation was thrilled to watch the children.  Our church has not done this in a very long time and your post helped light a fire for me to talk with our Children's Director about seeing this through.  I think the children leading the elders helps us all to loosen up and rejoice for Jesus together...no matter what age.

Thanks Robert for your reply.  I agree more with John Z's comments however.  I attended a D6 conference a month ago to listen in on the Faith at Home movement.  They were not saying that the task of the church is only to train parents, but that the church has often failed to train parents and thus the renewed focus on our covenantal responsibility (promised in a parents' baptismal vows) based on passages like Deuteronomy 6:1-9.  I love the reality of other adults speaking into children's lives, however, as studies about youth ministry and the North American church's retention of youth after highschool are showing, if the parents are not speaking and discipling their own children in the home, then all the programs in the world at the church are not amounting to much.  It is fulfilling our baptismal vows to help parents to raise their own children to know Jesus, hardly shirking them.  The vows are made by the parents to "instruct these (your) children in the Christian faith" among other things and "with the help of the Chrisitan community."  The church helps but does not do this in place of parents.  In fact the church cannot disciple children in place of their Christian parents as it simply fails.  It is quite something to have hundreds of youth pastors and childrens pastors at a conference all affirm the same problem, they have vastly diminishing impact on the kids they lead when the those kids homes do not have maturing Christian parents. 

Though this home focus can go overboard in other directions, I hardly find the renewed emphasis (I believe a biblical and reformed emphasis) on faith at home dangerous.  This is not heresy.  This is godly parenting and reformed covenant promise keeping.  Regardless of programs and full involvement in the congregational life, the number one influence on the faith life of a teenager remains their parents.  Youth pastors and church education teachers are down around 12th (from a major study on the faith lives of teens release recently; Bibby?).  In the Christian Reformed tradition we have the added reality of Christian Schools.  There has been a steady slide toward handing our children to church and school to be discipled in the faith.  We hired a youth pastor to disciple our youth.  In the meantime, he and I have found few homes where faith training is present even in the most rudimentary ways (family bible reading and prayer at a meal time for example).  Now I am of course speaking from my particular context so that may not be true in yours.  Our youth pastor finds himself working uphill trying to get parents on board about their kids living godly lives. 

Don't misunderstand me, I am all for great church education and Christian schools, but without faith at home growing and expanding, our programs are not very effective.  They never have been.  Just research the young adult retention rate in churches in North America.  We just have trouble being honest about it.  And add to this, the reality that even if you do great home training and programs or whatever, if the marriages in the homes are not flourishing and growing as well, the impact is still minimal.  If the parents are spiritually lethargic, then no matter what goes on at church, school or home, the result will most often be spiritually lethargic kids coming out of those homes.  And statistics are bearing this out. 

This doesn't mean there is no place for a Sunday School.  Sunday School was originally started as an outreach tool for neighborhood kids who had no faith at home at all.  It can be a good tool for augmenting what is being taught at home.  But because most parents (in my context again) are both working outside the home, the family cohesion at home is fast disappearing and the church (and Christian school) is trying to fill in the gap.  I think if we do not listen carefully to what the faith at home movement is pointing out, we will continue to be unable to stem the flow of our young adults out of the church.  For a child to grow up with a weak home faith context, the life of the church remains so much religion done by their parents who don't really take it seriously, because, when they are at home, this Jesus stuff is no where to be seen.  That, in my opinion, is one of the top crises of our community of faith.   Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Colin.

posted in: What's The Point?

Colin, you raise an interesting point! You’re right—the primary place for faith nurture is the home.  And if Sunday school was seen as a replacement for that, we’d have a problem! Let me cast a different vision of Sunday school for you.

I believe that the whole church community has a role to play in shaping the faith of every member, from the newborn baby to person who is 100 +. We live in community so that as iron sharpens iron we can sharpen one another. I am about to become a parent, so this is something I'm thinking a lot about lately. I want my kids to have other adults in their lives who are sharing faith stories with them, who are modeling what it means to belong to Jesus, and who are echoing the things that I teach them at home. I want my kids to be able to draw on my wisdom and experience with God and also the wisdom of others when they have questions and when they face challenges. That can only happen when I immerse them in a nurturing, learning community where they can build relationships and hear God's story.

You might be surprised how many resources our denomination does offer for parents to use at home for passing on faith to their children! Here are some examples: the Kid Connection curriculum offers a section at the back of each lesson that is called "one-on-one-fun" that shows a person how to use that lesson with just one or a few children. That was included specifically so that Kid Connection could be used in smaller churches or at home. It also includes a family magazine that goes home each month with kids that is full of Bible activities to do as a family, and devotional ideas. Another resource called God Loves Me is a set of 52 Bible stories for 2 and 3 year olds. It’s perfect for home. Families can spend each week focusing on one Bible story and using the learning through play activities included with each book. The new Dwell curriculum includes a component called God's Big Story Cards which invites families to explore 165 stories from the Old and New Testament in fun and creative ways. In both theDwell curriculum and the Walk With Me curriculum there are at home devotional books for middle schoolers that invite the participation of families through questions that are geared for discussion. The Synod Faith Formation Committee has also endorsed a resource called Home Grown which is a handbook for Christian parenting. It includes a study guide and video to be used for small group study by parents to talk about how they nurture faith at home and to share best practices. In the next few years other resources will also be coming based on the work of that committee. Other voices in the CRC, like  Robert Keeley (who posted above) have also contributed works like the books, Helping Our Children Grow in Faith and Shaped by Godt hat are aimed at encouraging parents in their role as the primary faith nurturers. 

As Mark Holmen points out in the book Faith Begins at Home, there is a problem when parents outsource the faith nurture of their kids to the church. But that doesn’t mean we should throw away Sunday school! Our role as Sunday school teachers is to walk along side parents as we support and encourage them in the faith nurture of their children. That’s the vision—and with all the resources the CRC offers to help churches in this role, it’s an exciting reality!

posted in: What's The Point?

This is not an either/or situation.   However, we should realize what is primary, and what has the most impact.   It is a good thing for the church to have sunday school, girls clubs, boys clubs, catechism classes.   But we should realize that the time that children spend in these activities is quite small compared to the time they spend with their family and parents during the week, whether at meal times, or driving places, or watching tv, or playing games, and just plain talking.   What the church does in Sunday school is equivalent to only about one-tenth of what the children are learning in total, about the faith of their parents.   The children learn what they see their parents doing, and the priorities their parents have, and what the parents teach them about God, and life, and their relationship to God.  It would probably be good if the church learned to train parents to teach their children, because whether parents realize it or not, they are indeed teaching them something.   And this something will have a greater impact than sunday school lessons. 

posted in: What's The Point?

Colin – you’re right – this is a trend that is popping up in many places and I, for one, think it is a dangerous one.  I’m not suggesting that parents should not train their children in the Lord but the task of the church is to do MUCH more than just train parents.  The church is a community of faith and I have a responsibility to know and to teach the children in my church too.  The trend you point to is that churches do little more than give parents the tools they need to do the job – in fact in many of those churches they have gotten rid of Sunday School and replaced it with parent training.  I think that is a shirking of the vows we make at baptism and misses the point of what it means to be in community together.  I would suggest that this is in conflict with a reformed perspective of who we are as a faith community and our understanding of the covenant.

We certainly should be a resource to parents but that is only part of it.  I very much think that children need to see the faith of people other than their parents too.  In fact, this matches up with what we know about faith development theory – that the circle of influence gets bigger as children grow.  This trend of throwing everything to the home also basically eliminates children from church life.  That damages the church as well as the children. We need to be all God's people together and Sunday School is one of the places that happens best, especially when adults get to share their faith with the kids as they share the nuts and bolts of the lesson.

I know that this D6 movement  has taken root in some places – I just hope it fades quickly.

posted in: What's The Point?

Here's a thought,

what if this kind of education was done in the home by the parents rather than at Sunday School?  That way each child could be trained in keeping with who they are as their parents know that better than any one else. 

And if anyone thinks that parents aren't qualified ... most Sunday School teachers are volunteers who are not teachers by trade either.  

Google "D6" or faith@home and such sites. 

We have great intentions to teach these children, but I wonder why we think this is the job of the church and not the home (I think it stems from secular educational philosophy which has the state as the one to teach the children ... not a biblical view at all). 

So what if instead of Sunday School, we resourced and supported parents in their discipling and training up of their own children?  Just an idea ... one that is impacting denominations all over the continent ... just not ours that much yet.

posted in: What's The Point?

Oh, isn't that so true!! You plan for that one or two kids that you know will need extra engagement and then they aren't there. And it's so disappointing because you want to know if your strategy would have worked! Flexibility is key, thanks for these thoughts Laura!

posted in: What's The Point?

In terms of their spiritual life and growth, family devotions have a much larger impact than christian school, or any church activities, including catechism, sunday school, gems, or worship.   So if you are concerned about your children, and if you love them, you will not neglect family devotions with your children, especially at young ages.  By the time they are twelve or fourteen, they will quite likely have their own personal devotions daily, provided the family has modelled and encouraged them.  

A couple of options for family devotions that work well:  1.  family devotions at mealtimes.   This means that you either start or end the meal with prayer, reading scripture, possibly discussion, and possibly singing of some songs, preferably from memory.   In my case, this is what we do at least at breakfast and supper, and when on vacation or weekends, also at noon meals.  The children enjoy this.  When we read the bible, or a bible story book, invariably one or two will want to sit on my knee when we read,  although this diminishes when they become older.  At breakfast, I am often gone, so my wife leads this reading.    When the grandchildren are also there, then often four of them are trying to sit on my knees, and I can barely see the book.  They also love to pick the songs, especially the action songs.  As they get older and learn, they may want to play the piano for a simple song they are learning.  

The other option, 2, is family devotion at bedtime.   This works well if children more or less go to bed at a similar time.   It can also be done with parent and single child.   Again, the children miss it when it is skipped.  

Sometimes both options done together are possible, and the children do not mind it at all.   In fact, sometimes they are the ones who insist on it, and this keeps the practice consistent. 

Usually simply reading the bible, rather than all kinds of devotional books,  is the best. 

Just some suggestions to consider. 

posted in: Family Devotions

Hi Loreen,

The Walk With Me curriculum includes four Easter books that provide two sessions of Sunday school material and also include everything you need to put on an Easter program (including drama). You may want to check them out. Here is the link. You should see a button to push to read a sample.

Blessings,

Jolanda

We start Sunday School (including adult bible class) at 10 am, church starts at 11am with a ten minute break between.   Then, after the service, there is coffee and sometimes cookies, usually people stay for another half hour or so.   We have dinner at 2 pm, maybe at 1:30 pm.   or a light lunch, and then dinner/supper at 5 or 6 pm.   But we only have one service on a Sunday, which makes it easier to be at church for 2 and a half hours in the morning. 

This is a great question, Laura. I'd love to hear what other churches do when it comes to scheduling Sunday school. Until last year we had Sunday school on Sunday nights. But the attendance was low, so we made the transition to having Sunday school before worship. We have more people of all ages attending, but it does make for a LONG morning--especially for the youngest kids. Our worship service lasts about two hours, so we begin at 9:30 with Sunday school and usually leave church around 12:30.

I wish there was a better way--we've talked about mid-week programming, but have never been able to get everyone on the same page with the days and the times. Plus we have a mid-week Cadet's program, so it would be hard to juggle that along with another day for Sunday school. For now, what we have is better than before but not perfect...

What some teachers do, is to talk to the parents directly about what the kids are learning and what the expectations are.  They will talk to the parents either at church, or call them at home.   This usually helps, and makes a big difference.  The kids begin to learn that the teachers are connected to their parents, that they are working together, and are not two separate enclaves. 

posted in: The Answer Is God!

Great blog, Robert! (Ro-bear) :) I just posted it on our church's Facebook page.

posted in: Doing It Wrong

Haha! Great story and quite true. Ministry is so much about being there for and with the kids!

posted in: Doing It Wrong

So, it is a challenge!   How do you meet the challenge?   Any suggestions?  

 

How about every lesson the teachers think about training (or involving) the parents almost as much as training the children?  

posted in: The Answer Is God!

Parent and grand parent involvement is very important part of a child's faith formation.  Many Sunday School curriculums include send-home papers, bookmarks, email or other reminders with devotions, Bible Stories, memory work and activities for the kids to do at home with the parents.    If these resources were used, the Sunday School lesson would be reinforced.  I think much of this is ignored or throw out. Getting parents to look at and follow up on these materials is a really big challenge.

The Nuture blog is another resource that can support parents and grandparents as they raise children of faith. 

posted in: The Answer Is God!

Perhaps I shouldn't use the example I am going to give.  But I am going to use it anyway.  When professional dog trainers talk about their work, they admit that most of their time is spent not in training the dogs, but in training their owners.   It is usually the owners that are the problem for problem dogs. 

Children are not dogs, obviously.  But the same principle often applies.   If the parents are not completely involved in what their children are doing in Sunday school;  if the parents do not follow up and participate during the week, then the potential for sunday school for children will not be realized.   So perhaps half of the sunday school program ought to be oriented towards how to get the parents involved.   How do the parents re-inforce the sunday school teaching.   How do they enable the memory work.   How do they follow up on the lessons, crafts, learnings.  

Enlisting the help and direction and guidance of the parents will more than double the value of the sunday school program.  It may triple or quadruple the value. 

posted in: The Answer Is God!

We were talking about this some more last night.   She pointed out that the lessons were referring to children using their sword (the Word).   Yet, they didn't seem to be learning about the Sword, the Word very much, in order to use it as a sword in their daily lives.   She mentioned that every year it seemed that children were starting with learning the creation story, flood, abraham, etc.   But it didn't seem to go to the prophets much, or to the new testament gospels enough, or to the epistles.   So perhaps there needs to be a better balance on the entire scriptures?   Her thoughts, anyway. 

posted in: The Answer Is God!

Hi John,  You have a good point.  We want to make sure our curriculum is appropriately challenging. 

Your comments has prompted me to think more about Bible memory so I may write about that soon.  

posted in: The Answer Is God!

My wife teaches Sunday school.  Today she expressed some frustrations to me about some sunday school material.   It seems to be really dumbed down, and at other times relating stories and incidents that are inappropriate.   It is dumbed down in its low expectations of the children.   It seems to ask for them to learn one single memory verse over six weeks.  Yet they have the capacity at much younger ages to easily learn a memory verse every week.  She got them to memorize the books of the bible over the course of the semester (grades 4 to 5.)   The curriculum which was oriented to grades 6 and 7, seems to ask questions that are too simple and too repetitive, even for 5th graders.   This relates a bit to your story about "who named the animals?"   While your story was not about sunday school, still your willingness about the wrong answer, to "let it slide", takes away from the learning opportunities for the kids.   They have the capacity to understand that God let Adam name the animals.   While it is true that God is the answer for our life, this answer alone does not lead them to grow in their response to God.  That is exactly why God allowed Adam to name the animals, so that Adam could grow and take on responsibility. 

 

Dumbing down the answers too much can lead to perpetual immaturity, because it becomes an expectation that we have of each other, and of ourselves.... that answers are simple, and that if we are wrong, it doesn't really matter much. 

 

The curriculum (all about making decisions) also seemed to relate stories about the mire and filth of life that my wife felt children of that age should be protected from for awhile.   So she tossed some lessons in the garbage, while she used others.   She might go to a different curriculum this fall (she seems to be looking forward to teaching the kids again.) 

posted in: The Answer Is God!

I have such fond memories of events called "Hope's Hearth" that were intergenerational gatherings that took place in people's homes at the church I belong to in New Jersey. Back then I was a single young adult living 700 miles from my family. These events gave me the chance to interact in a family sort of way with people of all different ages. We shared a meal and a story and prayed for one another. I loved it when the kids prayed for the adults. It blessed me deeply and deepened my relationship with many people in our congregation. I can't wait until Faith Alive's new intergenerational curriculum comes out in the fall. I'm excited to give it a try at my church!

Thanks for visiting our church! I dually love it when the kids sing- Nobody can be critical of a little child, and the message is crystal clear. Everyone has a big grin on their faces after they leave to go downstairs. You are always welcome to come back- We love visitors!

posted in: He Knows My Name

What exactly is the problem? Did this question arise from the storyteller's real, internal dialogue with the story? Storytellers must do the inner work; they need to find their own authentic questions. Perhaps if the storyteller doesn't have any real questions, the best response is silence.

Wondering is a dialogue between the storyteller, the children, and God. Thus, the storyteller listens with empathy and responds in ways that keep the conversation open and allow the children to continue working with the ideas.

I wonder what part of the story is about you? I wonder what part of the story is about me?

posted in: Wondering Out Loud

Good idea, Laura. We have done similar things in our gathering area. We also have materials for parents/guardians to use/borrow at the adult waiting area outside the Children and Worship rooms. It gives them something to peruse while they wait for their children to be dismissed. I have done a gift subscription to The Little Christian for my grandson--it's a winner!

Allen.

In the past, I've given WALK WITH ME, JESUS by Karen Wilk,  published by Faith Alive Resources designed for Middle Schoolers.  They are written, however, more for family devotions than for personal devotions.  I guess it depends on what you're looking for.

Liz

thanks Jane,

Just ordered them.  They look great.

 

Allen

You may want to consider the Gotta Have God 2 series of devotional books. There is one for girls ages 10-12 and boys ages 10-12.

Blessed Holy Week,

Jane Schuyler
RCA Helpline; Children and Worship Coordinator
Reformed Church in America
4500 60th St SE
Grand Rapids MI 49512
(800) 968-6065
jschuyler@rca.org 
www.rca.org 
www.FaithAliveResources.org  

Welcome aboard, Laura!

Jolanda:  I pray things go well with your new adventure.  Thank you for the blogs this past year.  Toni

posted in: The Next Year

Jolanda, thank you so much for all the great tips, comments, sharing and guidance you have provided for me and all the leaders in the LAUGH network in Edmonton, Alberta. We have highly valued your personal input and the love you have poured into our network ministry. God bless your future plans! 

posted in: The Next Year

Thanks, JoJo! Good job!

posted in: The Next Year

Thanks Jolanda!  Best wishes in your next chapter!

posted in: The Next Year

Thanks for all your work over the past year, Jolanda, as The Network's very first Sunday School guide. You signed up even before it was built!

And thank you for your continued enthusiasm for connecting children's ministry leaders - both online and off. Keep up the great work for Faith Alive, the CRC, and beyond.

posted in: The Next Year

Dear Jolanda,

I will miss you and your blogs on the network!  Thanks for all that you have given and written to equip and motivate those of us 'in the trenches' .  I, for one, have always appreciated your gentle words of encouragement and insight.  Glad to hear that while you are leaving, you are in fact sticking around! and I look forward to hearing from you from time to time.

Blessings,

Liz

posted in: The Next Year

Thanks Jolanda,

   God bless you for your service.

Ken

posted in: The Next Year

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