Today I led a training session with some of our Sunday School Volunteers. I thought it might be worth sharing some of the resources we used to stimulate discussion.
A to Z
As a group write down words that you would associate with ‘Sunday School’. Then select the three most important words by circling.
Video: History of Sunday School
- When people were talking about attending Sunday School in the past what were some of the things they enjoyed?
- Why do you think they enjoyed these parts of Sunday School?
- What can we learn from the Sunday School that met in the cinema?
- When Sunday School first started children worked in factories and didn’t know how to read – what challenges do children and young people face today?
Words/phrases that come out video: Belonging, Friendship, Fun, Community, Recognition, Dignity, Special Events, Positive experiences
Questionnaire: What young people want from church?
Over the past few months I visited each of the youth organisations at church to speak with the children and young people and get a sense of what they enjoy about the groups. If you are planning a team day similar to ours I’d strongly encourage you to do a similar questionnaire. It could be helpful to tease out the differences in how children and adults view Sunday School. Some of questions we asked included:
- What are some of the things you enjoy about the groups you attend?
- What are some of the things you dislike?
- What new groups would you be interested in going to? (We gave them a list to choose from including groups like film club, art clubs, cooking classes, fitness club etc)
- If you could speak to God or ask him a question what would you say?
- What would your dream world look like?
For the dream world question a lot of the children mentioned things like Pokemon, Hunger Games, Lego and Minecraft. It emphasised the need for volunteers and those working with children to understand children’s culture and to make use of some of these things in our teaching.
What Young People want from Church
A leader who knows their name. Kids want to be known personally. If they get lost in the crowd, you’ll lose them. It’s vital you get them out of the row and into a small circle.
They want to have fun. They want to laugh … play games … be kids. When parents pick up their children, there’s a reason they ask them, “Did you have fun today?”
A lesson that will hold their attention. They want you to connect with their learning style. They want you to teach on a level they can understand. If they are saying the lesson is “boring,” guess what … it is.
They want to talk and share their thoughts. Instead of a one-sided lecture, they want to learn by being part of a conversation.
Rooms decorated with them in mind. They want environments with bright, kid-friendly colours and decorating themes connected to kid culture.
An opportunity to serve. They don’t want to be referred to as the church of tomorrow … they want to be the church of today. They are eager to be involved and make a difference.
A friend their age. They want to build a friendship with someone in their class.
They want to be listened to. They want someone who will listen … really listen as they share about their week … their favorite video game … their fears … their dreams … their family.
They want to be affirmed. They want someone to believe in them. Someone to see potential in them. Someone to not just encourage them to believe in God but to show them that God believes in them.
Create a list of things that you are doing well at your Sunday School or club. Then create a list of things that could be improved upon. Discuss how the weaknesses could be addressed.
More detailed information about each learning style : Learning Styles Choice Board
It’s important that we account for the various learning styles of the children and young people we work with and included a variety of different methods within each weekly session. It’s also important that we are aware of our own learning styles and avoid creating sessions too heavily dependent on our own learning preference.
Divide your volunteers/staff into two groups. Encourage each group to plan a Sunday School session for the children you work with. Group A will be working with children aged 3-5 and group B will be working with 6-9 year olds. This is a good opportunity to tie together discussions from the first session about what kids want from church along with the discussion about learning styles.
Give each team some example resources ( we used copies of Spill the Beans) and a theme for some inspiration as well as some information about child development milestones for each of the age groups. The session should last for 40mins.
Each group will critique the other group’s session plan.
Change and Transformation
In a Grand Prix when the weather changes the drivers have to get to the Pit as quickly as possible. If the rain comes on they will need to change the types of tyres they are using so they can maintain grip on the track. The same is true for church. If we want to maintain our position in the race we need to adapt our set up. The longer we leave it the less likely we will finish on the podium. Change is inevitable – it will happen whether we like it or not…the question is how we adapt. We can’t control change but we have a say in how we make the transition.
What changes have taken places within our communities/society?
What transitions can we make to stay connected?
Discuss the top 3 priorities for next term of Sunday School. What three things could be implemented that would improve your groups?
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