Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Mighty Wind

My friend Lee advised me to stop teaching Sunday School, which is something I totally want to do.

The biggest problem with teaching Sunday School at our church is the “lesson plans.” Each one has “story” that one of the teachers is supposed to tell using props, usually some pieces of felt and some wooden figurines. Sometimes, there are also some laminated animals or pictures that go with the text. There's a script the teacher is supposed to follow, which includes directives to "be silent and gaze at the wondrous scene before you" or "allow the children to sit serenely and reflect on what they've just heard."

After the story, there are no more instructions for the volunteer teachers except reminders to do some songs and “to just be present” with the materials.

The deal with the stories is that they are completely incomprehensible to the three-and-four-year-old students, as well as to the teachers. I know basic biblical stuff fairly well from thirteen years of Catholic education and church-going, but most of the time, I can’t recognize the bible story or idea we’re trying to cover in Sunday School. This proves problematic because at the end of the “story,” there are some questions that everyone is supposed to “discuss.” Except, not only do we not know the answers to the questions, we don’t even know what the questions mean.

After a couple of disastrous attempts at making the story stretch for the an appropriate amount of time, Dan and I decided we just couldn’t do it anymore.

So, we started stealing lessons, art project ideas, and song lyrics from websites for evangelical Christian Sunday School teachers, and things have gone much better. All I do is spend about two hours looking for ideas, gathering materials, and crossing out all the stuff about “getting to heaven” or “going to hell,” and then away we go.


LH said...

this was just like my experience teaching sunday school for the unitarians. Every week I was supposed to read a 5 page script about some famous unitarian, while the kids sat there. Give me a break. so I started doing research on social agencies in town and bringing in projects that could support those agencies. habitat for humanity, that kind of thing. The lesson planning and gathering materials would take me hours. After a year of that, i said, SEE YOU LATER UNITARIANS! And I went off on my merry way, but my kiddo stayed on with them. If I ever do volunteer for a church again, it's going to be passing around the doughnuts, or washing out the coffee cups.

Tom said...

So what you're saying is you've got "going to hell" all sewn up? ;-) At least you GO to church.

Rachel said...

Kace. Very bothered by your imminent absence at school tomorrow. Just FYI.

SingletrackJenny (formerly known as IronJenny) said...

Maybe just simplify it to teaching them to be more "Jesus-people" and less "Church-people"?

I believe that all He wants from us, is for us to love Him, trust Him, honor Him, and do our best to be more like Him. He promised He'd be with us always and that He'd love us always. Once you start "adding on" too much, or just reciting a "lesson plan that your supposed to tell using props", then it becomes more about us humans, and less about Him. If you are losing the kids' interest, and it sounds like you are (through no fault of your own!), maybe try letting the real stories stand on their own. Let Him guide you on how to capture the kids' interest, rather than on following some other guy's "lesson plan."
Then again, I don't believe we have to perform for Him if He's going to save us, I think we just have to believe in Him to be saved. (John 3:16)

KC said...

Jenny, You are absolutely right - the problem is that the stories are inaccessible in the current format. The lessons I've found at websites designed for teachers in other, more Jesus-centered denominations, are much more engaging and real for the kids.