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.

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Sermon Notes Round-Up for Kids

This week I have done a Sermon Note Round-Up for kids! Sometimes children who grow up in church can get bored with the routine sitting in church listening to long sermons scenario. Having a ready sermon note sheet for your child(ren) may help them to pay attention more to listening to the service. Many of these sheets have various activities printed on the paper besides a note-taking section. Explore the different styles and see what might work best for your child’s age and maturity.

Another idea: Make these sheets available for all the children in your church. They may help children who may be new to the concept of sitting in a regular church service as opposed to being in a regular children’s service during the worship hour, particularly those who may be guests or children who only come to church on Sunday mornings. Don’t be afraid to challenge children to better listen to and incorporate God’s Word in their lives by using a tool like this. It can help them grow spiritually and teach them to sit more attentively in the church service. I can’t promise that a sheet like this won’t be used for passing notes from time to time but I do believe that it can be a resource to direct their focus on the Lord.

Right now I am working on a set of sermon note sheets for missions conferences!! They will be available within the next week or two. I am very excited to be back involved in providing ministry and Christian parents with tools they can use for their families and in their ministries.

Sermon Notes Round-Up for Kids

Free Downloadable Sheets

Non-Readers Printable Listening Pages Mama’s Learning Corner that encourage kids to trace Bible-centered words and other activities: Regular Sunday pages, Christmas, Resurrection Sunday pages.

Amy at Raising Arrows has created Listening Pages for Readers, five different pages for regular Sundays, some different pages for holidays as well. They have a section for notes and a list of common words used in church where the kids can make tally marks when they hear it.

Monica at Living Simply for God has created My Sermon Book for her four children to use at church. She has some different types of activity pages like: Keyword Alphabet & Count, Keyword Scrabble, and Hangman.

Sermon Notes for Kids by Beth Gorden at 123 Homeschool 4 Me has four different types of printable sheets to use.

Church Focus Cards at Cornerstone Confessions are made to print on 3×5 note cards for younger elementary children. Scroll down the page to find the downloadable page.

Kim Sorgius shares the sermon sheets she uses with her children in church as well as her philosophy on why she uses note-taking pages with her children in church at Not Consumed.

Stacey at A Moment in Our World has a very simple sermon note-taking sheet available.

Do Not Depart also has a simple sheet for early elementary level note-taking with a large space to draw a picture and a place for the main idea.

Kyleigh Kite at Becoming Blameless has created four different grade-level sermon sheets for Pre-K to Kindergarten, first and second grade, and third through sixth grade, and a sheet to help make application at home through the week.

Teachers Pay Teachers Downloads

In order to download these (whether free or for purchase) you must have a Teachers Pay Teachers account. It is free and easy to sign-up.

Bible Study and Sermon Notes Bookmark (free) – this has three bookmarks per sheet that can save on paper and ink if you want a concise note-taking sheet. By: Tiffany Crawl

My Sermon Notes for both Girls (hearts) and Boys (stars) for free. By: Courtney McKurley

Sermon Notes for Kids Sheet ($1.00) for 2nd-4th graders. By: Creations by LAckert

KISS (Kids Involved in Studying Scripture) Worship Note Pages (free). 6 pages.  By: Tricks of the Trade

Sermon Notes for Purchase

Jill Connelly has created a Sermon Notes for Kids spiral book that you can find at Truth Steps Publishing. Ages 6-12, 144 pages. There is also a Teen Sermon Notes book and a Creative Sermon Notes for adults.

Integrity Graphics on Etsy has sermon notebooks for kids, both for boys and girls in a spiral notebook that is for an entire year. Cost: $14.99

Recently published is called Busy Books: Sermon Notes, created by an eighteen year old homeschooler and her mother, Madison & Darlene Schacht (The Time-Warp Wife). Cost: $9.99 There are enough pages in the book for 3 services a week throughout the entire year.

Note: This post does not contain affiliate links.

If you know of a similar resource please include the link in the comment section below!

Sensory Bins for Sunday School

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Maybe you have heard of them, maybe you have yet to experience them, the really cool visual and tactile learning tool – The SENSORY BIN!

What is a sensory bin?

It is a hands-on activity placed in a box, bucket, or even a plastic swimming pool for a child to experience hands-on lesson or theme being studied. They have a fillers, like beans, rice,  and then add items that the child can play with. Some sensory bins also include smells from essential oils, scented sprays, cinnamon, etc. Sensory bin activities can be found all over the internet for toddlers, preschoolers, and even older children.

How could you use a sensory bin for Sunday School?

1. For a visual as you teach your Sunday School class.

Simply have your activity box with filler, it’s best to have something with a lid to transport easily. Then as you tell your story add the story items into your sensory bin, setting up the scene of the story.

As you go through a series of lessons then make it a little more interesting, do not put all of your story items into your sensory bin or change some of the items in your bin. Example, if you teach about Daniel, the first week you may teach about Daniel and his friends not eating the king’s meat. You might have a king, 3 friends, and little fruit objects in your bin. In the second week you may remove the king and food and teach about Daniel in the lion’s den adding lions and maybe even some bad guys transforming it into the new story. This will renew the children’s interest in the sensory bin.

2. To reinforce elements of your Sunday School lesson in a day or over a few weeks.

The child gets to play with items associated with the lesson and learn with their hands, eyes, and other senses have your sensory bin(s) before your Sunday School class or following your Sunday School lesson.

If you use this as an activity instead of a visual you might make this a station where children rotate to play with it or make multiple bins of different types of Bible stories to rotate.

I have made these sensory bins for the 2’s and 3’s Sunday School class that I worked in, but my children 3-8 all love playing with them. They act out the Bible stories and ask me questions about why each item is inside the box. It’s a great tool for little growing minds.

More information on the Resurrection Sensory Bin and the Creation Sensory Bin can be found at my sister site, www.ministrymamas.com.

These are very popular and I figured, why not make some Bible-based bins for Sunday School!?

I would love to challenge you to make one of your own for a Bible or  church related activity and send me some of your photos! If I get enough photos then I will make a special sensory bin blog post.