Last week I visited Fourth Reformed church on the northeast side of Grand Rapids. It’s a busy place, buzzing with ministry. Sunday school coordinator’s Tom and Norma Boehm showed me around the building and talked with me about the children’s ministry. They face the same challenge that many of us face. Busy schedules mean worn out families don’t always make it to church. We talked about some of the things they are doing or could do to get families more engaged. Here are some of the ideas:
- Photo posters--One of the teachers at Fourth creates a poster each month full of pictures of the kids working on projects, holding up their student papers, acting out a drama, etc. She captures the heart of each unit, “In September we learned about God’s promises” and displays it in the Sunday school hall for kids and parents to see. By the end of the year she’ll have a wall full of pictures showing all that they’ve done.
- Parent class--Fourth offers and education hour between the two morning services, but doesn’t offer classes for adults. We talked about the possibility of doing a parent study using a resource like Home Grown to help parents share ideas for nurturing the faith of their kids. Carol Slager, the director of education and community care at Modesto CRC ordered a copy of The Home Grown Handbook For Christian Parenting for every family in her church. She put them in their church mailboxes along with an invitation to join an 8 week class on Christian parenting. She was amazed by the response and the excellent conversation!
- Sharing stories--We thought it might also be helpful to collect stories from teachers and periodically share during announcement time a few the exciting things that kids are doing in their classes.
- Focusing on Faith--The titles, “Sunday School” or “education hour” sound a bit stuffy, don’t they? Why not replace them with something new? Henry Muller is beginning his second year as the children’s ministry director at Sunshine Community Church. He is eager to develop a new name and vision for the kid’s ministry. He wants the name to convey the excitement he feels for helping kids get to know and love Jesus.
What do you do to help families feel motivated to bring their kids to Sunday school?