If you missed the Zoom gathering on Curriculum Selection last night, were there but would like to review what was presented, or are wanting to think about your Sunday school curriculum options for the fall, here’s a video for you.
In this half hour recording you will hear about a process for narrowing down your curricula options from a curated list of wonderful Sunday school materials.
“We’re doing a Story Journey tomorrow to go along with our church’s yard, garden and bake sale. We’re featuring Laura Alary’s book, What Grew in Larry’s Garden. We’re so excited.”
My good friend, Laura Duggin, minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newmarket, Ontario dropped this into a conversation the other day. We weren’t talking about Story Journeys or garden sales at the time, so when Laura burst forth with this comment I needed to know more.
If there is one thing we’ve learned as Christian educators during this pandemic, it’s that many of our parents were ill-prepared to take on the role of being faith-formers at home when our church buildings closed and our church programmes were shuttered.
And, it wasn’t their fault!
When asked, most parents say that they ought to be the primary influencers of faith with their children, and they are absolutely right. Yet, these same parents also tell us they have no idea how to do this because they haven’t been shown how. Sadly, with our decades-long emphasis on forming faith with children within our church buildings through Sunday school, mid-week groups and summer programming we’ve inadvertently left our parents in the dark on how to talk about and practice faith at home as a family.
As we look to rebuild our educational programmes this fall we can’t ignore what we’ve learned these last couple of years; we must not cut our parents out of our faith formation plans and in fact we need to make families the centre of our approach going forward.
Churches are beginning to talk about restarting in-person Sunday school after a two and a half year hiatus from offering regular children’s programming. Leaning into the hope that our churches will be able to gather safely and with a deep desire to get children back to Sunday school before our youngest generation misses out completely on a Sunday school experience, churches are anxious to do the best they can to restart well this fall.
There are so many stories to read and hear during Holy Week; from the excitement of the crowds on Palm Sunday to the quiet of the garden where Jesus went to pray, from the shock at Jesus’ arrest to his undeserved death a day later and finally to the extreme joy of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Each day builds on the previous day revealing God’s deep and grace-filled love for this world.
For younger ones many of the stories we tell during Holy Week can be difficult to understand and even scary. Well-written children’s bible story books help us to share these stories from scripture with children in ways that are more accessible and appropriate for their age. For this reason this interactive Google Slide has been loaded with videos of wonderfully written and told stories for Holy Week. It is here for you to upload onto your churches website or Facebook page so families can visit each day throughout Holy Week to hear these stories together.
Are you looking for a simple Lent devotional resource to share with your families at home? Here’s one that’s free for download that leads participants of all ages through a complete reading of the Gospel of Mark.
The Gospel of Mark is the shortest of the gospels and is considered to be the first of the four to be written. There is a sense of urgency in Mark’s gospel to get it all out there as fast as possible so people can quickly hear and know “the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1) With little commentary along the way, Mark leaps immediately into revealing Christ as the Messiah, through a wealth of parables, miracles, conversations and encounters with Jesus. If you have never read a gospel through from start to finish, Mark is a good one to begin with.
I just canceled the Zoom check-ins on Christian education planned for this week. Unfortunately only three people signed up and they were divided between two meetings. This low level of participation where once there was an enthusiastic number for Zoom check-ins seems to be symptomatic of what I’ve been seeing across the board with people’s participation in bible studies, Sunday school and leadership development.
I have found over these last couple of months that our church leaders and our people are more than exhausted from the ongoing stress of just keeping up during this pandemic. With the first year of the pandemic and its church building closures and protocols, leaders had a surge of energy and imagination for thinking about educational ministry in new ways and even began to focus on some things we’d been overlooking in the last number of decades. During the second year we established new ways of doing educational ministry and even began tweaking what we were doing as we got better and better at Zoom Sunday schools, porch meet ups and virtual worship. Moving into this third year I’m beginning to hear from many of our leaders that they just feel flat, without imagination, and are simply doing their very best to stay above water.
Thank you for all you’ve been doing to continue providing faith formation practices and Christian education programming for your church over the past couple of years. Providing educational ministry for all ages during Covid has been an incredible challenge and you have pivoted, adapted and changed focus each step of the way.
We’ve learned a lot too. We’ve highlighted families and the significant role parents play in the passing on of faith to their children, we’ve learned far more about technology than we ever imagined, we’ve embraced the word ‘hybrid’ and are beginning to understand that multiple points of access will be the new normal going forward, and we’ve come to see our church as not a building but a gathering no matter how that happens.