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.
Recruit Prayer Partners
A prayer partner is a person that you connect with to pray—pray for each other, pray together, pray alone, pray in good and bad. Connecting members and students in prayer can strengthen individual relationships and that of the entire congregation. Have your members volunteer to be a prayer partner, and then pair them with a student randomly, or if you can, pair them with a student that has similar interests—this gives them a commonality to share, which can strengthen their relationship. Encourage partners to pray for one another daily—on the way to or from work or school, before meals or bed. Possibly set aside time during Sunday School for your students to pray for their partner. Pastors could also set aside a brief period during service for the members to pray for their students. Try taking it one step further and encourage members to send their prayer partner cards, emails, or texts to encourage them throughout the year in their faith. What kid (or adult for that matter!) doesn’t enjoy receiving cards or thoughtful letters just for them!
Have Students Serve in Worship
Children enjoy participating and being active, whether at school, home, or church! Having students be part of the worship service engages students with the congregation while also engaging members. Try letting students serve as greeters or ushers. This is a simple way for members and students to meet. Think about including a short skit or video to play during service. This could be the students reenacting a Bible story or finding a relevant YouTube video. Either way, videos can enhance the service for your students while also giving congregation members a glimpse into the students’ world.
Share a Meal
One of my favorite ways to connect with someone is by sharing a meal together; it encourages conversation, prayer, and many times, laughter! Take this special time and use it to cultivate relationships between your students, families, and congregation. Host a meal where members, students, and their families sit with one another, sharing a meal and conversation. Possibly host breakfast or lunch before or after service when a majority of your congregation is already there. Have students and members work together to make the meal (maybe it’s scrambling eggs or stirring a sauce); this encourages more one-on-one relationships between members and students. The meal could also be catered by or dine-in at a restaurant—whatever will work best for your congregation. Any way you slice it, involving the entire church in a meal can help spark meaningful and deep relationships.
Make Students Visible
Being from Missouri, it’s hard for me not to think about our state’s nickname, “the Show-Me State. The motto “show me” can easily be applied to your congregation’s relationship with your Sunday School students. If members don’t see your students, it’s hard to keep them in mind. So how can you make your students more visible to your congregation members? One far-reaching and accessible resource is social media. By sharing photos or weekly teachings, you can easily show members what your students are learning. Sharing photos in your bulletin, newsletter, or anywhere your members are looking is a great way to keep your students visible. Maybe incorporate a photo slideshow into worship service once a quarter. Members will enjoy seeing children active in Sunday School, and parents will love seeing photos of their kids! But before you start sharing photos, make sure to get and use a proper release form!
Creating a congregation engaged with your Sunday School enhances relationships, strengthens your community, and elevates the teachings of your classes. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14–15).
Need more ideas to engage your congregation?