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Unread 02-23-2009, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Missouri
5,720 posts, read 13,368,147 times
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Default Starting Sunday school program - any ideas?

I attend a small church in a rural community. At Sunday service, attendence runs between 22 - 30 people. Almost all are over the age of 60. We have one woman in her late 30s who brings her two children to service; the kids are 9 and 16 I think. She does not bring them to Sunday school because service starts at 9:30am and she can't get there any earlier. So, there is no Sunday school. Our pastor says in 10 years we will be a dead church, because we have no younger members.
I'm not even a member; my pastor back home (I've lived here for a year now) encouraged me to attend for a while before joining any church. Even so, they've asked me to co-chair their committee to start a Sunday school on Saturdays. I was asked mostly because of my age, 29; they think I will be more in touch with youth and that the kids will feel more comfortable with me than the older folks. (I don't necessarily agree, but that's just me). The pastor is encouraging us to find fresh, new ideas to bring the kids in, and keep them interested.
So far I have a handful of ideas. I am especially wanting to learn more about modern, Christian music the kids can sing. I have a friend with kids who goes to a large church, and she says they hardly sing anything out of the Hymnal. Anyone have any ideas for me? We are targeting kids ages 9 - 12. I'm told their Sunday school curriculum materials are very old, too.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 10:21 AM
 
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I personally thought Sunday school was a waist of time, it did not equip me for the outside world. Think about it, we have access to our children for a couple hours each week whereas the outside world has them for the duration. We make Noah's ark look like a children's story with those rediculous illustrations in our books depicting a small boat where animals heads are sticking out because it looks so cramped. No wonder when these kids go to school evolution crushes there "lil' children stories" by the time these kids reach hi teens, they fall away and who could blame them, they were never equipped properly to defend what they were taught.

I just ask you prepare them for an ever growing anti-Christian world.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 10:23 AM
 
Location: In God's country
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Christina you are doing a wonderful service..Blessings to you. At our church..which is also very small, we have sunday school for the older children, and they kinda put all others under 10 in one group. The 10 and under they are working with them to have them understand "why we do what we do in church" from the pastor on down. they are learning why we collect money, why we light candles, why once a month we do communion, ect. and we are now working what they are learning into the church service. once a month they help with the service. The children love this. My husband an i are thinking of taking the 5-6 or younger and starting their own sunday school. With the basics and coloring pages, and learning some of the stories within the Bible. Okay..the older kids are working in the Old Testament. We also have a Youth Group of 12 and over. This is open to the community children as well. If you would like any info feel free to DM me. Best of luck to you. and God Bless.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 10:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christina0001 View Post
I attend a small church in a rural community. At Sunday service, attendence runs between 22 - 30 people. Almost all are over the age of 60. We have one woman in her late 30s who brings her two children to service; the kids are 9 and 16 I think. She does not bring them to Sunday school because service starts at 9:30am and she can't get there any earlier. So, there is no Sunday school. Our pastor says in 10 years we will be a dead church, because we have no younger members.
I'm not even a member; my pastor back home (I've lived here for a year now) encouraged me to attend for a while before joining any church. Even so, they've asked me to co-chair their committee to start a Sunday school on Saturdays. I was asked mostly because of my age, 29; they think I will be more in touch with youth and that the kids will feel more comfortable with me than the older folks. (I don't necessarily agree, but that's just me). The pastor is encouraging us to find fresh, new ideas to bring the kids in, and keep them interested.
So far I have a handful of ideas. I am especially wanting to learn more about modern, Christian music the kids can sing. I have a friend with kids who goes to a large church, and she says they hardly sing anything out of the Hymnal. Anyone have any ideas for me? We are targeting kids ages 9 - 12. I'm told their Sunday school curriculum materials are very old, too.
Whew!

9-12 is a TOUGH target there.

You won't have them without their parents, so you need to make a push to the community. Start with the 2 you've got and work form there.

I can tell you that if the Lord's in it, He will bring forth the fruit.

As far as music, you can make your own with a computer and a few CDs.

I've done it for some time now. Use a simple video program like Premiere Elements or Movie Maker (part of Windows) and just bring in the music and add the lyrics.....play it on a television and make them some CDs to take home with them.

Forget about SS materials, find you a good book or bible study and just start with that. Make it a small group for tweeners and early teens.

Then get out and do some projects and encourage them to bring their friends.

Working and serving together....going places....doing things...will build bonds....witness to them....show them Christ....and watch your fruit grow.

Don't be discouraged by the work ahead, it'll be well worth it.

You might also see if you can attend something by Josh Hunt.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 01:06 PM
 
Location: land of quail, bunnies, and red tail hawks
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Boy, does your situation sound familiar. Been there, done that, there again, etc.

My thoughts run all over the place on this. Basically, you'll be walking a tightrope between entertaining the kids to keep their interest and preparing them to face the world, like Fundamentalist said. What I've seen too many times is a huge emphasis on entertainment. Kids, even teens, are hungry for the truths that can be found in God's Word. If we don't feed them, they'll look elsewhere. I'm one of the old fuddy-duddies that believe teens don't necessarily want entertainment; they want someone who truly cares for them, is interested in them, and will give them what they need--God's Word. If that person can do so in an interesting and entertaining way, so much the better.

One thing most teens (even churched ones) lack today is a strong foundation. They have a bit of a hard time understanding Jesus' death because they don't know about the Fall, the Flood, or the Law. Personally, when embarking on a new program, I'd move pretty quickly into teaching Genesis and the first part of Exodus. That foundation will give you a leg up on just about anything else you'd want to cover. When I was starting from scratch and hoping to gain attendance, I actually started with the "I Am" statements of Jesus found in the book of John. That gave the couple of kids who were with me from the start an idea of where we were headed. By the time we finished with the "I Am" statements, the class had gained attendance, so everyone was there when I started started laying the foundation which begins "in the beginning."

When I was teaching 4-12 year olds as a group, I did lots of visual and hands on learning. I was really surprised and tickled when I realized that all the teens would find some excuse to wander through my classroom so they could see the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle model, the manna laying on the ground, the Garden of Eden, Garden of Gethsemane, etc. The teens always eagerly asked questions, and they were usually surprised at the answers. When I did the "I Am" statements, I had a huge variety of bread to show it's importance in our lives, I intertwined a fruit laden vine with one barren of fruit, I constructed a sheep pen using the chairs in the room and had a shepherd guard the door, etc. Whenever possible, I tie in snacks, songs, and activities with the lesson. This type of teaching requires a time commitment from the teacher, but it pays huge dividends.

The other thing I found regarding teens was the necessity of having other adults show an interest in both them and in what they were learning. I guess part of my conviction in this area comes from my own experience as a teen. The adults in the church would take turns attending our youth functions, inviting the youth group to their homes for fun things like ping pong or game night, inviting us out for meals either at their homes or in restaurants. They talked to us before and after church, and they invited us along to the Sunday evening get-togethers at Denny's or the ice cream shop. Summer camp was put on by the church rather than letting someone else do it simply because most of the youth couldn't afford the big, expensive camps. Yes, we had a youth leader, but someone else taught Sunday School and almost all of the adults made themselves part of our lives and helped with youth events. I believe that is an invaluable lesson, demonstrating selfless service and exposing the kids to adults who were mature and wise in the faith. (Quite honestly, most young adults leading the teens do not have the life experiences and wisdom of older adults.) Church was a place we wanted to be because the people there loved us.

Whether in the neighborhood, at school, or in church, the youth are craving attention from caring and loving individuals. The most important you can do, in my opinion, is show an interest in their lives. Prepare yourself by being in God's Word yourself. Have a humble and teachable spirit yourself, and pray for opportunities and wisdom in sharing His Word. You'll be amazed at the results!

Last edited by Blueberry; 02-23-2009 at 01:16 PM.. Reason: never edited
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Unread 02-23-2009, 01:37 PM
 
Location: land of quail, bunnies, and red tail hawks
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I'm musically inept, so I can't be of much help there as far as artists/labels/etc. Personally, I'm not sure trendy music is as important as everyone makes it out to be. For youth, I'd probably stick mostly to peppy praise and worship music, taking an occasional risk with more traditional music. Even today's teens can have lots of fun with kid's songs, so don't be afraid to try them out, either. Be careful of catering so much to their needs that they resent the music played in church on Sunday. Yes, it's great for them to have their own music, but there's no rule that says they shouldn't enjoy a broad diversity.

For starting a program, I'd opt to use music as background noise during snack and activity times. Most 9-12 year olds I know aren't exactly thrilled with the idea of singing with others. Once they are familiar with the music, though, it's easier to get them to join in.

Movement seems to be pretty motivational. Look for music that works well with action. I know I've seen some music that gives suggestions for movement. Music videos might be helpful, too. Learn the motions yourself, and be animated when trying to engage others.

I think Child Evangelism has some resources that would fit well with your age range; they have the tried and true oldies but goodies, but they also have quite a bit of up-to-date stuff. I don't know their stuff well enough to recommend a particular product, but I'd definitely investigate their music.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 07:52 PM
 
Location: Ruidoso NM
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You have to bathe your class in prayer and in fasting.....at least that is what I did...and the HS will give you wisdom, I hated the curriculum, It under estimated the intelligence of the kids, too dumbed down for my liking i used it as a guide line, and The HS provided the rest. These kids were my responsibility, and iheld them to a higher standered, oh And love each kid as thou they were your own to be planted, get to know them talk with them encourage them to each pray.
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Unread 02-24-2009, 07:35 AM
 
Location: Lakeville, MN
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Christina,

I would have to ask you if you know what your spiritual gifts are and what you are passionate about? Do you believe God is calling you to teach Sunday School for children/youth?

I will wait to give an opinion after you answer...

Biblegal
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Unread 02-24-2009, 01:48 PM
 
Location: Missouri
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I'm passionate about helping people...professionally my focus has been on geriatrics, healthcare, and deinstitutionalization. I don't know that God is calling on me to teach Sunday school, but more like I am being called upon to help get it started. We are still in the planning process, but I'd like to have one of the more senior members of the church do the teaching (no one wants to commit to doing it every week, but a few have agreed to help regularly), and I will be present to assist (and sub in, if need be). I see myself more as the one facilitating the creation of the program, and ensuring it continues. I don't know if it's a spiritual gift, but I have had success in starting programs, promoting them, and keeping people motivated to do their part.
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Unread 02-24-2009, 01:57 PM
 
Location: MI
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I really like the idea of having many teachers!
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