Krisann Durnford, field editor for Word Aflame curriculum, offers ways to connect with students after class.
What Happens after Sunday School?
Do you know what happens to your students between Sundays? For some it is a week of violence, danger, hunger, and fear. Other students may have days of routine events: school, TV, playing with friends, and little or no spiritual guidance. Or you may teach “church kids” whose parents are faithful in attendance and nurture their children spiritually. Whatever the case, the Sunday school teacher’s responsibility does not end when she turns out the light in the classroom.
Creative classroom décor shows you care. Exciting review games and Bible story presentations cause the children to anticipate Sunday morning. Yet what happens after Sunday school?
Effective children’s ministry cannot be turned on at 9:45 am each Sunday and then turned off two hours later. The one or two-hour Sunday school session is like the tip of the iceberg. Your preparation, prayer, commitment, and involvement in your students’ lives is all below the surface and affects the spiritual climate in your classroom.Effective children’s ministry cannot be turned on at 9:45 am each Sunday and then turned off two hours later. Click To Tweet
A popular national magazine often highlights secular teachers who have affected entire neighborhoods, schools, or communities. Story after story proves it can be done if the teacher goes beyond the norm—not just in the classroom, but also in the students’ lives.
How can you affect your students after Sunday school?
- Focus on the specific needs of each child to whom you minister. Keep a prayer journal with their needs and answered prayers.
Teaching a Sunday school class is a sacrifice of time and resources, but if we are going to do it, why not really make a difference by going the extra mile?
Include children yet to visit and those who have graduated from your class.
- Make time for your students individually. Pray with them in the altar. Notice the children in the hallway after adult service. Greet them, listen to their stories, and observe their likes and dislikes.
- Compliment your Sunday school children. Tell Susie that you like her smile. Praise Joe for helping. Mention the act of kindness that you saw when Bill helped his little brother.
- Remember your students beyond Sunday morning. A cheerful note brightens anyone’s day; however, children rarely receive mail. Surprise them with a letter or card.
- Give a small gift. Be diligent in visiting and presenting a gift to each child from your class at least once during the year. This offers an opportunity to become friends with the family also.
- Use special occasions to show love. Birthdays make one child special for twenty-four hours. Many children are involved in special school functions—sporting events, musical programs, award ceremonies. Attend a special event where your student is performing.
- Act in friendship. Meet the parents of your students. Unchurched families have no idea how they will be accepted if they attend church—why not show them before it happens? Where the children feel welcome, the parents will most likely feel comfortable.
- Be sensitive. Laugh when they laugh. Show sympathy when they cry. Care for them. Support them when life gets tough. At one children’s camp an eight-year-old sat on the front pew with a pitiful expression. He knew me through a mutual friend. Our mutual friend had walked away from the Lord. What does one say to a third grader’s question: “Why did he leave Jesus? He told me to never do that. Why?” As he cried, I put my arm around his shoulder and cried too.
- If several of your students attend a local school, volunteer to be a reader or teacher’s helper occasionally. Get involved in community projects where your students live. Be a part of students’ lives outside of the church walls.
Getting beyond the Sunday school mindset takes effort. Many of us just breathe a sigh of relief as we close the classroom door. Teaching a Sunday school class is a sacrifice of time and resources, but if we are going to do it, why not really make a difference by going the extra mile? By reaching into the lives of our students, we fulfill the commission Jesus gave: “Go ye into all the world.” He was not speaking of just Sunday mornings for our students. He looked beyond that into their Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
He saw the need to provide love and encouragement when the trials come on Thursday and Friday. Jesus is there for them on Saturdays; He does not leave for a weekend vacation! The Master’s example provides the answer to the question: what happens after Sunday school?