Did you ever have one of those Sundays… by Rev. Denise Bender

IMG_0927boost-Denise-right-white-cropI am typically a very organized person. I write curriculum on Mondays, plan Children’s Time on Tuesdays, send curriculum out to the volunteers on Thursdays, gather supplies (which usually means stopping by the Dollar Store) on Fridays, set up on Saturdays, and am ready to teach on Sunday. I would love to take the time to work ahead on the lessons, but, alas, there is always a fire to put out – even if it is only an antsy dog who needs to be walked.

children, ministry, worship, children's time

Children in worship at Bethany UMC

Recently, however, as I prepared to gather the children for Children’s Time on Sunday morning, I noticed that the scripture from the bulletin which the Senior Pastor was going to preach on was entirely different from the lesson I had prepared. But what can you do? I gave the lesson I had prepared and quickly tried to bring the story in Sunday school to the main point that was being heard upstairs in the sanctuary.

You see, I work very closely with the two Senior Pastors with whom I minister in two small churches. The churches have limited funds, but their congregations desired a professional and polished Sunday morning experience for children. That’s where I come in – I was contracted to be that professional clergy leader.

I write weekly curriculum that reflects the same theme, scripture, and message as the adults are experiencing in the sanctuary. The weekly bulletin has the questions I have prepared for the children so that the adults are able to have a conversation with the children on the same topic. The children always do a craft project or play a game that helps the main theme of the lesson get a little deeper in their hearts and minds. I have never used coloring pages in my curriculum. Pinterest is my best friend.

Integration of themes and messages between worship and Sunday school is important to me, and is one of those principles that I strive to implement faithfully each week. But sometimes things get a little muddled, and we have to improvise. At times like that, we have to trust that the Holy Spirit is still at work, perhaps bringing different lessons together for young people or families in ways we don’t even realize.

I share all this to say that our children are so delightfully eager to hear about God the Creator, Jesus their friend, and the Holy Spirit which lives and breathes in them. The theology of the Trinity does not seem to be problematic to them. The essences of God appear each week in the lesson and our conversations together.

What matters even more to me than “getting it right” in planning my lessons is being faithful in sharing the stories of the faith with children so that they can live with them, learn from them, and in time, pass them along to others. So whether you get the right scripture each week or use a completely different one, just be sure to find those sacred moments to talk with the children about their faith in a God that holds all people as sacred and holy creations.

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