Walking the line between nerd and cool.

Sunday School, Take 2

I mentioned before that there were lots of great options to choose from for the Crossroads Sunday School this coming year.  Not final yet, but here’s where it stands now:

There are some gaps for holidays and retreats that are already scheduled, plus some padding in case something unexpected comes up.  Gospel Journey is a DVD-based curriculum that will cover the weeks leading up to and immediately after the arrival of our little girl, hopefully giving me more time to be at home and learn first-hand about being a daddy.

I reserve the right to change my mind, but here’s what I’m thinking for this year.  I also have about 5 more series ready to go, so maybe I’ll start planning for next year now.  🙂

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7 responses

  1. Alicia Z

    I think you should START the year off with Gospel Journey. I hate to tell you this, but many of the kids were very dissatisfied (my words–I’m toning it DOWN) with last year’s format. You need to do less talking. They don’t want to hear you preach at them. THEY need to talk and/or see others their age talking about what they have to deal with every day. Materials need to be engaging, not preachy.

    August 1, 2008 at 11:55 am

  2. I’ve also heard that many of the youth liked what we were doing. We average more time in small groups than me teaching, but the teaching time is too important to give up entirely. We tried doing entirely small groups with the “Beginning in Jesus” book, which most youth seemed to not like for Sunday morning. It was a good experiment, but I definitely would not try it again for Sunday School.

    David starts the year because David is the theme to the opening event. It also is much more helpful to me to have the Gospel Journey stuff, which requires the lowest amount of prep on my end, at a time when I’ll be over-tired and trying to learn to be a parent.

    August 1, 2008 at 1:03 pm

  3. I wonder how you know which method is more effective, and whether you are reaching more kids or turning them off with style issues? Did you ask all of them or do any kind of a survey? Believe me, I’ve had 3 teenagers and I’ve taught high school Sunday School – I know that many of them will not give you answers or will say they don’t like *anything*, but I pray that your heart is open to continue to ask for feedback from all and not make the decisions independent of that feedback.

    I too have heard from many kids that they sit and listen in school all week, that Sunday School should be less like school and more a chance to talk together.

    Just be willing and open to ask and listen and change if what you’re hearing doesn’t match the plan. It’s only about the kids, after all.

    Joe Z.

    August 1, 2008 at 3:06 pm

  4. Good tips Joe. I’m always open to input from others. There has been nothing scientific about any of the polls that have been done with students, but maybe there should be. My pattern has been to talk to youth across grades, frequency of attendance and friend circles to get data. Again, not exactly scientific.

    Style is one thing that has to be considered. This year, 23 weeks are in the style of “Game/Teaching/Small Group”, 8 are DVD/Small Group based, 4 are hands-on(/possibly individual) and 4-5 are Small Group only for when my schedule takes me away from the group or during holidays. Other factors I look at when planning Sunday School include:

    Content/Themes
    My family/professional schedule
    Crossroads ministry goals/values/target demographic
    Space/Time constraints

    It’s tough because no one style or theme will reach everyone. We have more variety than ever this year on Sunday Morning because we’re trying to reach as many people as possible.

    August 1, 2008 at 3:23 pm

  5. I like the idea of different styles, and trying new things. Perhaps you should consider finding a way to get some feedback to find out which of the styles seemed to connect with the kids more.

    Even if you don’t “use” some of the info you get from a survey just asking would show the kids that you are interested in what they think. You might hear some things you didn’t expect.

    August 4, 2008 at 8:32 am

  6. Tim S

    Hi, Just reading all the blog comments now and wanted to put in my two cents (which if you’re married to my wife – goes a long way! )
    First, I think Jason has phenomenal material. It’s really great stuff that has helped me and can be relevant to the kids.
    I do have some thoughts about the structure of the class and whethor or not we’re engaging as many kids as possible. Let’s face it, it’s a difficult population – some kids are there because their parents are forcing them, they’re overtired, etc. – so some may not like anything we do.
    But I’d still like to know that we’re doing everything we can to get the most out of the time we have.

    I agree with Joe that most kids at this age (or maybe the boys) want something that is different from the school experience. When Jason used the book with entirely small groups, my perception was not that the small groups didn’t work, but that the kids didn’t want to be reading a book. (As good as the book was.)

    I must say though, that I’m not entirely a fan of the small group structure for discussion compared to a large group for discussion. I didn’t think their was enough consistency in attendance to have the relationships form the way they are intended to. In my experience, I’ve found more discussion taking place in a larger group with kids doing more of the sharing.

    I think we should ask for feedback from the kids in a survey that allows for anonymity. More than just “Did you like it?” but also offer some alternative structure ideas, etc. EX. An open time for current events/needs in a kids life and how the Bible applies to that.

    We all have such a desire to help these kids grow closer to Christ…if we work together, (kids and adults) and keep praying for wisdom, we will continue to better meet the needs of the kids.

    August 4, 2008 at 11:11 am

  7. I don’t mind the large group thing, but one of the reasons we landed in small groups is that a large group doesn’t scale well. We’re about at the end of what can effectively be done with a large group with ~15 or so youth in attendance. I expect to get closer to 20-25 this year, which may rule out the large group as the “regular” format.

    Maybe we expand the size of a “small” group to be 2 tables’ worth of kids and you get the same group for the year, which would help with relationship building. It’s a little bit larger, but not unwieldy.

    An “open” discussion time on occasion is helpful, but I’d like to see some way to focus discussion on what the Bible really says and to actually dig into the Word. Everyone sharing what they think on a topic is fine, but if it doesn’t come back to a clear statement from Scripture about what the Word says, is that the best use of our time? Now, that can happen in an open discussion format, but the Bible truths become less intentional as we all just try to remember what the Word says rather than coming with a verses ahead of time that have been researched and prayed over.

    Maybe this means students have to turn in questions or topics ahead of time and then we hold them until we get to a discussion day. Then we would know what’s coming and have spent some time looking up the answers in God’s Word before students actually arrive.

    August 4, 2008 at 3:39 pm

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