Is Sunday School Boring? Change the Environment

This is the quote I saw today,

“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Alexander D. Meijer

Many times as ministry women and families we can easily pinpoint problems or “sins” within the lives of other people. Discernment and experience allow us to figure out why they aren’t growing spiritually — we can see maybe that it’s their home life, or it is that they are not dedicated enough to the things of God, etc. But I will propose today that maybe it is not always the plant…

I want to highlight a specific part of ministry, one where you might have a larger influence, the Sunday School class. Not all women will have that influence because I know you serve where you’re needed or where you’re gifted, maybe you’re not a Sunday School teacher. I think that the idea and many of the basic principles can apply with this theme. Apply to any situation where you’re the teacher. If your church has grown stale and the people and flowers are not blooming it can be the environment of the church as much as it could be the environment they are cultivating in their own lives.

Boring Sunday School classes create bored students. If things are not going well in your class, it may not always be the students, it may be the environment.

Minutes before I saw the quote about flowers, as I was scrolling through Facebook, an advertisement asking parents and adults “Why do 75% of children quit going to church by the age of 18?” The premise of the advertisement said that the reason was because children learn the same Sunday School lessons year after year even into junior high and high school. Their curriculum was a topical lesson series that was meant to answer common questions children have about God and spiritual matters.

The advertisement almost made me laugh because our children actually have had this happen between 3 churches we have attended in the past 3.5 years. When we were serving in ministry on staff they learned about Samuel and went through the book of Judges. When we joined the church plant the teacher curriculum was also in the book of Judges. Then, this year when we followed our pastor to a new church (it’s a special story I hope to tell down the road) guess where the Sunday School teachers were in their curriculum series!? You guessed it! Judges. And we’re talking about three different curriculums, classes, and teachers.

Our kids had mentioned they were bored and I explained there must be some important lessons for their life right in that part of the Bible. Can you see how church could have been really boring if they were not engaged in their classes with good teachers giving different life applications over the past 3.5 years? Or they only went to church on Sundays? Or what if we did not talk about spiritual things at home? You can see how that there might be a possibility of becoming bored with church if this was the case.

Changing the Environment

While I realize it’s not our jobs to “entertain” per se’ in the church, but we should be making our ministry work appropriately engaging. Sunday School is no exception, it is a significant opportunity for children to hear Bible teaching on their own age level.

Classroom Environment

  • Cleanliness of the room should be maintained.
  • Seats that allow the child to sit with their feet close to the floor. Tables that allow them to comfortably do their work or play.
  • The walls should have neat decorations that are not a distraction. Decorations should change too and compliment the purpose of your lessons and class or at the very least, the seasons.
  • You also want to have a window or the door to public walkways to allow accountability and prevent accusation, especially if you do not have a classroom helper.
  • Do the best with what you have — maybe you’re using one-size metal chairs and they’re you’re desks for filling out Sunday School papers too, or you’re in a classroom that was not really designed to be a class, then you can only fix and work with what you have.

Sunday School Teacher Environment

The receptiveness of the spiritual message of the lesson is dependent upon the teacher’s effectiveness to communicate God’s intended purpose for the lesson. The heart of the teacher is the key to competent teaching. The character of your actions before and during class also will dictate “success” in teaching.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you preparing enough in advance to study the lesson and allow God to work in your heart?
  • Have you prayed for the Sunday lesson time and the children of your class?
  • Do you have flexibility when things do not go as planned, to be able to come up with new ideas that will create interest or deal with problems?
  • What is your personality in the classroom? How do your students perceive you? Which fruits of the Spirit are you exhibiting or should you incorporate?
  • Are you engaging the children through eye contact and appreciation of their responses?
  • Do you have sins exhibited in the classroom? For example, do they see impatience or anger when you deal with difficult people and situations?

Lesson Environment

Through time often as teachers we can begin to rely on specific methods that we are familiar with and get into a routine of using the same types of methods of teaching. I’m going to encourage you to spice it up and try something new.

  • Preparation of materials and supplies should be done ahead of class time.
  • Utilize visual aids – Eyes and brains are connected, if you’re engaging their eyes they will more than likely be listening. A friend suggested engaging children by using the five senses, use a number of visual aids that will help them see AND experience the lesson.
  • Use your voice – No monotone! Whisper, speak with excitement, use voices to portray characters. Read the Bible in an interesting way.
  • Plan more activities than you will think you need. Always have time fillers whether they are little simple games, conversation starters, or simple coloring sheets, etc.
  • Rotating through lessons systematically by grade levels (each age level is doing something different). Joyful Life’s curriculum has a great way of rotating the age groups through different parts of the Bible and not repeating year-to-year.

When I was teaching regularly I would write out a classroom schedule including the songs we would sing, rules and expectations I had for the students, the lesson, review games, any other activities if we ended up going through the lesson faster than expected. Preparation and planning both the inside of you and the working parts of the classroom time can be a make-or-break element to a good learning environment.

 

 

While in no way are any of these lists exhaustive, we are always in a need to liven up our skills and sharpen ourselves to effectively educate the younger generation about the truths of the Bible.  I pray and hope that there will be an idea that you can use to be able to bring life to the environment of your Sunday School class.

The Blessings of Having Your Pastor/Ministry Husband Work Full Time

Blessings can be found in having your ministry husband work a full-time job! Two articles I wrote previously focused on problem-solving some of the dynamics that go along with a ministry husband who works full-time. Those were the “Help!” articles, in contrast, let’s look together at the beneficial side of being a bi-vocational pastor or part-time ministry staff.

You both can understand the average church member’s life experiences and time restraints.

For example, you can understand…

  • The mindset of church members when your work schedule fills a large portion of your daily timetable.
  • Why some people are hesitant to volunteer their time when their schedule is already full and they’re trying to maintain family life.
  • Why marriages and parenting can suffer.
  • The investment and sacrifices many families make when they volunteer in your ministries.
  • Why some families struggle with some aspects of their ministry responsibilities.
  • The reason people are late or show up to church in work clothes.
  • Taxation on the mind and body from being exposed to sin in the world.
  • The allure to skip church by resting or being spiritually lazy when off work.

“My husband is now full-time but has not always been. We were church planters for 5 years. For me what has been a blessing is my hubby has compassion on our people. He knows the struggle of working full-time and being faithful to all the services. With that being said, he knows it’s possible. I’m thankful for his compassion towards our people it’s not that he gives them a pass to miss church it’s that he can say ‘I’ve been where you are at.’ Some months {it is} tough to work full-time and be faithful but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Family life was busy but we cherished the times we had together.” -Pastor’s Wife 

A bi-vocational ministry worker said this, “I have always been bi-vocational. It has helped me to better apply the word to my own life first, before getting before a congregation. Also, for the past 12 years my positions have been in management which has helped to develop me as a leader and an individual. It also been a source for illustrations and practical experience.”

You are conscious of the mission field when your husband works in it.

Your husband is a walking missionary who goes out into your community every day and has opportunities to interact with others for Christ.

A ministry friend said this, “Honestly one of the biggest things we have noticed is when a pastor works at the church, sometimes they get caught up with ‘church stuff’ and never get out and meet people. The great commission is to GO and yet so many times the pastor stays. When you are working an outside job you develop relationships with people who you might have never met, and you can witness to them and be a testimony to others. Also, it allows you to be a good example for the Christian name. Christians have a terrible reputation and by working in the secular work force you are able to change a few people’s minds on what/who Christians really are.”

We have personally seen this in our ministry experience also. If nothing else, a job can keep the spiritual need of souls real in the heart. Last year my husband led a co-worker to Christ through an in-home Bible Study we did with her. This was a particularly special blessing to us since we had not seen anyone besides our daughter saved since we moved to our current city. It was a confirmation to us that living a bi-vocational ministry life is purposeful if God has us doing it.

You can value your church and home more highly as a haven.

The value of an earthly “Haven of Rest” both at home and in church is priceless. When you are dealing with people in the workplace and community it can wear down on the soul and spirit. Coming home to a peaceful place where God’s love abides is a refreshing taste of heaven on Earth. When a saved person can also walk into the doors of their church and fellowship with other believers it is also a  comfort to a weary soul.

Remember though Ministry Mamas, you have to be the keeper of your home and make it a haven for this to be true for your life! If you’re not regularly maintaining a clean home and teaching your children to help with responsibilities. Clutter and messes can cause stress, for me personally a visually pleasing atmosphere is neat and tidy. You also need to be maintaining a respectful and servant spirit toward your husband and teaching your children to have peace with one another. Fighting and arguing are opposites of peace. Creating a haven takes an investment of time, teaching, and training to be able to create the atmosphere of rest.

You see God fulfill your needs in many ways when you have to trust Him.

“My husband has been a bi-vocational pastor for 4+ years. It’s not easy,he felt called to help small, rural churches who needed a good pastor, but couldn’t financially afford one. We started at the church with 25 solid members and after four years, we run around 90. Our church is in a small town of about 2,000 souls. Its been awesome to see God work. We went from a six figure income to less than half of that, but we’ve never missed a bill or been behind. God has richly blessed our sacrifice. What we miss out on buying, God has seen fit to provide in different ways. From people giving us food from their gardens and farms, to love offerings, to free labor (one of our members is an auto mechanic who fixes our vehicles for free, one is an air-conditioning mechanic who has fixed our air conditioner, one is a carpenter who has help in several projects around our home. God has used His people to bless us. We own our own business, so our hours are flexible. Through this business, we have been able to reach out to our community and have seen people come to the Lord that way as well. I won’t lie and say it’s easy. There are long hours and we have worried at times….but God is so good. His blessings overflow continually.” -Pastor’s Wife in Kansas

You can witness how ministry experience can affect people in your husband’s workplace and in the community as he ministers while at work.

“My husband has been bi-vocational most of his ministry. It provides a lot of opportunities for him to get to know people in the community in a different context. He is currently working as a chaplain for a faith-based hospital system, and gets to make in-home visits to patients. He has won many of them to the Lord, and has been able to encourage and witness to their families as well. That job has been a huge answer to prayer for him, because it has helped supplement our income, but still allows him to do spiritual work at the same time. He has also had a lot of opportunities to witness and encourage people in the Lord on his other jobs as well, just not nearly as many open doors as this current job has provided.” – Pastor’s Wife in Pennsylvania

We know many men whose involvement in their workplace, not just with co-workers, but with seeing the needs of the local people gave them a greater burden for their community. As a result, a more focused concentration was made in reaching those people during their time after work.

Conclusion

If you are a bi-vocational family it’s easy to the see the negatives of a full-schedule, balancing family time, and regular church work but I encourage you to see the blessings in your life because of what God is allowing. Everything may not be what you wish that it was but there are still plans, purposes, nuggets of rich blessings straight from to be able to glean from this experience. My hope is that you have been encouraged by the viewpoints of many other families who are in similar life situations.

Mother’s Day Music Ministry Ideas

This is a collection of Mother’s Day Music Ministry Ideas. Seasonally I see questions throughout the year about songs to sing in church that show the holiday or special day their church is focusing on, this article will focus on music especially for Mother’s Day. These can be used for Mother’s Day events like Mother-Daughter banquets as well as be sung on Mother’s Day itself.

Music ministry ideas can vary, just switch up your song groups to focus on the song’s purpose.

Song Group Ideas

  • Choir special
  • A group of young girls or boys, or combined
  • Your children’s choir
  • A teen group or choir
  • A group of women singing to their children
  • A combined group of young girls, teen girls, and mothers singing
  • A men’s group singing to their mothers
  • Older women singing a message to younger mothers

Mother’s Day Song Ideas

I have included links to sheet music and videos if I have access to them, to help you find them easily.

My Mother’s Prayers written by pastor’s wife Julia Montoro – video here. Good for a mixed group of young girls, older girls, and mothers, or for a mother-daughter group.

I Love You This Much – written by Sandy Blythe – video here

A Song for Mothers written by Abigail Miller – hymn style or extended version – video here. This would be a song to be sung by a mother of children still living at home.

The Vision of a Mother’s Heart by Abigail Miller – Video here.

I Know written by Heidi Fuller – Video here. This is a song about the godly lesson a mother learned about losing a child (through birth and adoption through a personal story), as God says that He also knows the pain of loss. Best sung by a mother.

More Than Enough by Shawna Edwards – Video here – Great for a children’s choir, or a smaller children’s group with some older teens.

Hello Mama by Squire Parsons – Video – Found in the Living Legacy Songbook. Sung by a male solo, as it speaks about the changes in a man’s life since he has met Christ.

Always There written by Nikki Lott at Christian Compositions. This song compares a mother’s love with God’s love which is “Always There.”

Hymns

Mother’s Bible – This video is a bluegrass rendition of the song, sung by Paul Williams & The Victory Trio. I am unsure where you could find a copy of the music.

Tell Mother I’ll Be There Hymn – Sheet music and video.

If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again hymn – Lyrics with .pdf sheet music (lower left corner) and video. This song can also be found in some hymnals.

Choir Music

Bible Truth Music 

A Home That is God Made – Choral Octavo.

Choose Life – This can be bought for a large choir or small choir or a solo. Video here.

Majesty Music

Molding a Masterpiece This song can be found in The Best of Ron Hamilton Vol. 2 music book – Video

Cherish the Moment – This song can be found in the Patch the Pirate Kids Choir songbookVideo

My Mother’s Gentle Love – This song can also be found in the Patch the Pirate Kids Choir songbookVideo