It takes more than one hour of Sunday School learning once a week to set children up for a lifetime of faith growth. Sunday School is a wonderful blessing and can be a great teaching tool. But, congregations need to ensure that this time isn’t simply Jesus- themed childcare, filled with happy distractions. Rather, Sunday School can be a time where parents can come alongside teachers and be connected to resources that aid in the continual teaching of their child.
It’s important to note that not everyone has the opportunity for strong Christian parents. But whether single parented, being raised by other family members, or legal guardians, adult mentors play a key role in establishing patterns that result in lifelong learning, especially concerning faith. Like it says in Deuteronomy chapters six and eleven, concerning the Lord’s commandments, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Timothy Lutheran Church in St. Louis has been working towards different methods of engaging with parents. Mark Thompson, who serves as DCE there, notes they had a lot of interest in a hybrid Sunday School, which was implemented during a summer before COVID. There was one Bible Study with all age groups with discussion and table activities. When COVID hit, they shifted gears and worked towards empowering parents to teach faith in the home. As the weeks progressed and in-person learning grew over the weeks, they now have a new hybrid. Twice a week there is more traditional learning, where classes are broken into age groups. And the remaining weeks are “family group style”. Families (parents/care givers and kids) sit at tables and have small group activities and large group participation. This way parents know what is being taught to their kids and can reinforce lessons at home.
Whether it’s increasing take-home resources for families, helping practice family devotion time, adapting in-person Sunday School learning, or anything in between, try to find ways to build on the resources your congregation already has in place to encourage family learning to raise up the next generation.