Suggestions for Sunday School With Only a Few Kids?
September 6, 2016
Updated September 6, 2018
6 comments 5076 views
We're a smaller church and our Sunday School teachers are having a hard time because we only have a few kids (about 8) and they're all different ages and levels and not all of them attend regularly. We've used the Faith Alive resources for small church Sunday School groups, but after a few years they've kind of grown stale. Are any of you doing multi-generational stuff, have any of you done a whole church Sunday School, either before or after the worship time, and then had the entire church in the sanctuary for the whole service? Are there other ideas? Help!
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We have the opposite problem in our church; over 80 kids, with classes of 15. But I've done a lot of Children's Ministry in different circumstances. What's your age range like? It's easier to do something if the kids are a bit older. Are your youth involved in the program? I love the energy and enthusiasm my young helpers bring.
One of the things I've seen work well is having the group work together to create something, on a theme or specific Bible story. So one week, you could explore Daniel and the Lion's Den by first reading the story out of a Children's Bible and then creating a Reader's Theatre play. The youngest children would be simple character such as lions, while older children would be the King and Daniel; the younger kids get the story basics, while older kids are encouraged to reflect on how Daniel may have felt, situations they may find themselves in that would be similar etcetera. The kids could present for their parents at the end of the service. Another week, you could show video on Jonah and then work together to create a mural showing Jonah inside the fish.
I know there are churches in my area that have one Sunday a month where the service is intentionally led for the kids. They do more interactive songs, incorporate various media, and have simpler teachings. This is coupled with their Sunday School program on the other weeks of the month. And I've heard great things about the WE curriculum from Faith Alive, though I've never tried it.
I wish you all the best in planning!
Caryn Tilstra, Smithville CRC
Thanks for responding Caryn,, some great ideas here, I appreciate your willingness to take time to help us out, I will take your suggestions to our Sunday School leader and this will help us get those creative fires burning again.
I work for Faith Formation Ministries as a Creative Resource Developer. The blessing of being part of a small church with few children is that it forces folks to consider ways to be more intentionally intergenerational and, as research from the folks at the Fuller Institute has shown, that’s a good thing!
I love the ideas that Caryn has suggested. Here are a few other places/people/curriculum you might want to check out.
GenOn Ministries has been developing intergenerational resources with a Reformed perspective for churches of all sizes for more than 25 years. Their LOGOS program is highly respected.
The Church Educators Facebook page is a great place to ask questions and Hope4CE is a great website with ideas---both are connected with the Association for Presbyterian Church Educators. (Two articles to get you started on the Hope4CE page: The Experiment and Generations in Faith Together.)
Worshipping with Children is a one of the best sites around for supporting families and engaging children in worship.
The Killing Sunday School/Birthing Cross-Gen Worship Facebook page is another helpful site. On it you’ll find many folks in situations that are similar to yours---and many ideas too.
As Caryn mentioned, the WE curriculum is a great option for learning events the whole church can attend. You can watch a church using WE in this video.
Questions? Feel free to email me or any other members of the Faith Formation Ministries team anytime. We'd be happy to have a conversation with you. You’ll find contact information here.
PS We are looking for congregations to participate in a learning cohort and strengthen existing faith formation practices. You'll find more information on that here.
Thanks Karen, we are considering stopping Sunday School as it is and do something intergenerational with the entire church, something like WE, but on a weekly basis and then tying it into our worship service. You've given us some great resources to look through! I appreciate all your help
Jacob, just wondering if you did indeed stop Sunday School and went with an intergenerational, entire church, program. If you did, where did you find curriculum or did you create your own? Wondering if you are still doing this in your church and what your thoughts are about how it is working. If you are, I would have more questions for you if you don't mind.
Hi Maryanne, we did stop Sunday School and went with an all generational class instead. We create our own lessons using the confessions and Contemporary Testimony as our material. We break it up into 3 10 minute sections: part 1 is teaching, part 2 is discussion guided by questions, part 3 is a game or activity based on the lesson theme. We call it GIFT, a name we found elsewhere that stands for Growing In Faith Together. It has been going for about 2 1/2 years now and the numbers are kind of up and down, anywhere from 5 or 6 to 15 to 20. Our sessions on prayer were the most strongly attended. I have a couple of people who help with proofing the lessons and questions and who take care of the activity or game. The most difficult part is keeping the teaching part at 10 minutes, especially when you're dealing with bif topics. This is where the questions come in, even if we don't have time to go through all the questions, the people who attend are able to reflect on them through the week as well. We have seen that our older members are more aware of our children and youth and vice versa. It is a fair bit of work, but seems to be working for us at this time. I am leaving our church in the next couple of months, so we're not sure if if will continue. As pastor of a small church, I have made this a priority in order to increase the connections between the generations, and it has helped in that, Each church and pastor would have to weigh the time and effort for themselves to see if it would be right for their church.
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