An Intergenerational Alternative (or Addition) to Sunday School

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One of the blessings of developing resources for Faith Formation Ministries is receiving resource requests from church leaders and through our team of Regional Catalyzers. One request that I’ve heard a few times this year goes something like this:

“Our church doesn’t have enough kids on Sunday mornings to run a Sunday school program, but we’d still love to provide some sort of discipleship program with the kids who do come. Do you have any suggestions?”

If that sounds like you, you may want to check out LIFT (Living in Faith Together), a new intergenerational Sunday school curriculum from GenOn Ministries, the nonprofit organization with Reformed roots that has been providing congregations with intergenerational resources and support for more than 50 years.

LIFT is built around a simple four-part format based on this description of the early church: “The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers” (Acts 2:42, CEB).

During a LIFT session, participants of all ages

  • eat a simple meal (or snack) together.
  • read and talk about a Bible passage or story.
  • play or create something together.
  • pray and worship.

What’s to love about LIFT?

Sessions can be easily adapted to fit into an 80-, 60- or 45-minute timeframe. 

LIFT can be used weekly, monthly, or just during the summer months. It’s up to you!

It works before a worship service, after a worship service, between services, or whenever else makes sense in your context.

Keep in mind that if you opt to use LIFT as an alternative to Sunday school, it’s important to be aware that it doesn’t have the broad scope and sequence you find in a solid Sunday school curriculum, so there will be gaps in what children are learning. (Read more about the importance of a strong scope and sequence here.) You’ll want to be intentional about providing children and families with other ways to move through God’s story. Some ideas: ensure that excellent Bible storybooks are available to families and provide busy families with an all-in-one reading plan and do-able devotional like God’s Big Story cards.  

As with all curriculum, LIFT will need to be tweaked to fit the context in which you are using it and to connect with the people you’re using it with. If I were using LIFT in my church context (in a church plant and with young children) I would rewrite the discussion questions to make them more open-ended and accessible. (God’s Big Story cards would be another helpful resource for discussion questions and activity ideas.) LIFT suggests a new closing song each week; we might use one song over several weeks instead.

Given the simple structure of each LIFT session, such changes would be easy to make. If you need an alternative to Sunday school or would like to experiment with providing a program designed to build intergenerational relationships, check it out! 

For more ideas on how to engage all ages as you learn and grow in faith together, visit The Intergenerational Church toolkit below. 

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This sounds really exciting. Thank you for letting us know about this resource and Genon Ministries.