Children running together, creating kites or cross necklaces, and high-pitched voices singing about Jesus almost seems like a distant memory. Oh, how we long to hear those sounds and see those smiling faces learning about their Savior! You may be feeling that hosting VBS is an uphill climb this year, but don't give up! Your church can find ways to share the joys of VBS and still respect the ongoing safety precautions associated with the pandemic.
Excitement is in the air. You can feel the anticipation of kids getting ready for school, the sigh of relief from parents that they may get a small break now, and the flutter of teachers’ hearts (and stomachs) as they prepare for another school year. Or is it the sensation of tension you feel? The nervousness of kids getting ready for their first day back or maybe even the anxiety and stress of teachers and parents alike? This year, it seems to be a bit of both worlds, excitement and anxiety. It’s the unknown of what teaching and learning during this pandemic will feel like and how it will unfold in the following months. So what will your Sunday School look like this fall? There are several options to satisfy the unique needs of your students and families. Let’s take a look.
Lounging in a hammock strung from the shady oak trees, sunglasses on, ice cold lemonade in one hand, and a great book in the other. This is my ideal picture of summer! Summer seems, for many of us, to be a time for sun, vacations, relaxing, and enjoying a new book. And for many teachers, it is also a time to re-focus and recharge for the coming year.
Summer is almost here, and it is not starting off how we had all hoped. Everyone is scrambling trying to figure out if in-person events (from birthday parties to worship services and even summer school) will be held and, if so, how to hold them safely. Summer Sunday school can prove to be a challenge for administrators and teachers any year, but this year might be an even bigger challenge than prior years. Trying to figure out the best option for your students and their families can be difficult. So what options are there to keep your kids learning about Jesus throughout this summer? Let’s look at five non-traditional options.
This year is proving to be unlike any other we have seen in our lifetimes. There are challenges personally, physically, mentally, and even spiritually. One challenge many of us are facing is making decisions about hosting in-person events at church, such as Vacation Bible School. Do we host our VBS in person later in the summer? Do we switch to an all-digital platform? Or is there another answer? No matter how we decide to continue our children’s ministry through VBS another question arises: how do we stay connected and communicate our plans for VBS? The solution: come up with a simple four-step plan of who, what, how, and when!
Being a teacher involves patience, dedication, passion, lots of hours, and above all, love for your students. In these times of uncertainty when so many don’t know when they will be returning to school, how schools may look in the future, or if students are hearing the loving words of Jesus that they desperately need, be certain Jesus is with us as our guide.
Looking back on my childhood, I distinctly remember two things about the season of Lent. The first was choosing to give up something that I enjoyed for forty days (typically this was chocolate, candy, or even a favorite TV show). The second thing was, once Lent was over, the fun of Easter egg hunts, dressing up in our Sunday best, and finally being able to enjoy whatever it was that I had sacrificed for so many weeks. I knew the main reason behind the traditions—Jesus’ death and resurrection—but I don’t think I ever fully understood what Lent was really all about. This led me to wonder what children today know about Lent. So I enlisted help from my friends to ask their own children this important question.
As a child, the sounds of bells and Christmas carols, the smells of pine and cookies, and the love of Christ in the air are all things I loved about the holidays. My top three memories of growing up at church were the Christmas service, the Easter service, and Vacation Bible School. Why were these events more impactful to me than any other church service or lesson? It could be that they were all held are during a school vacation, during which I had extra time to spend with family and friends. It could be that these are all times when families in the church come together to celebrate our Savior. Or it could be because all of these events are filled with stories and lessons of who Jesus is and what He did for us. So what does Christmas and the nativity have to do with Vacation Bible School? EVERYTHING! The lessons and stories that are taught during VBS, Easter, Advent, and Christmas will follow children throughout their lives.
You see members of your congregation regularly attending worship and being active within their small groups and social circles, but are they thinking of or active with the children growing in Jesus’ love during Sunday School? Does it even matter? Shouldn’t the parents be involved with their children and not have to “bother” the congregation members? Of course, parents should be involved with their child’s faith, but it is also important to have your congregation members engaged as well. It can help parents feel connected to the church community, strengthen relationships across generations, and, most important, help students grow in their faith (and many times, the members as well!).
So now what? How do you start engaging your members with your Sunday School? The following are a few ideas to help involve your congregation with Sunday School.
As you say goodbye to your students and watch them walk down the hall, hand in hand with their parents, do you ever wonder: Are they discussing the Bible with their kids? Are the lessons I am teaching being reinforced at home? Am I engaging my students’ parents enough?