Four Ways you can Enhance the Sunday School Experience for Children

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 NIV)

Many of you have probably heard this comment before: “Children are our future. We need to do a good job to prepare them as leaders one day.” I agree that children’s SS teachers have a very important responsibility to prepare a great spiritual foundation for their future. I, however, would suggest they are our present! Children have the ability to energize a congregation with their smiles, laughter, enthusiasm, honesty, dependence on others and energy.

Here are some thoughts about your relationship to children and how to enhance Sunday School their parents and them.

Prepare your teachers in their relationship with new children each year. For example, as a child moves from preschoolers to primary, make sure your preschool teachers share information about each child: their personal likes, abilities, knowledge, favorite learning styles, artistic abilities and games, as well as hang-ups…etc. It is much easier for the new children to adapt to new teachers if you already know something about them.

Make plans to visit each child for the new year. Of course, this requires setting up an appointment with the parents. This idea has many benefits. First, it shows the child how important they are to you. If you visit, they will know you care. Second, it shows the parents how important it is. Let the parents know what you will be studying for the quarter. Help them to see how they can partner with you in the child’s spiritual development. It may lead to parents coming to Sunday School who have not been attending. (Be prepared to share about adult classes they can join.)

 Send a letter to the parents and child. The letter to the parents is to share some of your personal information, how long you have taught, been a Christian and what you like about teaching children. Enclose a letter to the child welcoming them to the class and sharing some of the fun things you will be doing.

Find ways children can feel a part of the church today. One of the ways I did this as pastor was to set up a Children’s Coloring Committee. This committee was made up of older children, asked by the Nominating Committee to serve. Their responsibility was to get all of the children coloring or drawing uplifting pictures that the deacons and I would take to shut-ins and persons in the hospital. The teachers helped find pictures for them to color. Patients and homebound members loved to get a picture from a child at church as well!

Other ways to include children are:

The children can learn Bible songs they could share in worship.

They can help raise money for a mission project.

Set up recycling at the church and talk about stewardship of the earth. The money can go towards a mission project.

Get small trees for them to plant at home on Arbor Day and talk about being good stewards of the earth.

More than anything children and their parents can contribute now as part of the church. Feel free to share with me ways you are helping them to feel important in your church. (See the blog, “Children and Sunday School” in my archives for more motivation.)


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4 Ways to Make the Most of Homecoming through Sunday School/Small Groups

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

Homecoming is a special time as we reflect on all of the great cloud of witnesses that sacrificed for the Kingdom of God through our church. It is also a time to help us reflect on our lives, how others helped us, and what we are doing for the Kingdom. Here are some ways to help make homecoming special through Sunday School and Small Groups:

  1. Give time for people to share in class. This is a day to reflect. Perhaps Hebrews 12 or Romans 12 could set the stage for members of the class to discuss how God brought them to the church and the class. What are their dreams for the future, and what part do they play in making a Kingdom difference? This can be the beginning of something new.  (I have heard of a senior adult class and young adult class meeting during Sunday School to share. It was transformational for both classes.)


  1. Honor persons who have made a difference in your life. In my former church, we took our young adult SS class to visit a homebound member who had loved on these young adults years before as their preschool teacher. (We had several join us that did not come to SS but wanted to participate. We brought thank you cards and a gift.) This wonderful saint was so surprised by all the persons she had influenced.


  1. During the invitation at worship have the class go and thank persons who mentored/encouraged them. This is a very moving experience. Many did not realize they had made such an impact.


  1. Show appreciation for your staff. Many churches have homecoming in October. It is clergy appreciation month. When was the last time that you showed gratitude for your staff? They are on call around the clock. They are always there during your crisis, but who comes to them in crisis? Show how much you appreciate them. Send them cards, provide based on their needs for the family, and offer tangible ways to show love. Here are some ideas:


  1. Do they have children at home? Offer to spend the evening taking care of their children while the couple goes out for a date.
  2. Show monetary appreciation. My first church could not provide for all of our needs. They, however, showered us with a love offering for my birthday in June and just before Christmas to help with Christmas gifts!! They also gave us lots of vegetables in the Summer from their garden!
  3. When they have served five or more years, give them a time away. I have seen this done with money for an extended vacation, sabbatical and even a trip to the Holy Land! (Yes, a son of a shut-in actually paid for my wife and me to go to Israel!)


Homecoming is to be a pivotal moment in the life of the church. How are you experiencing it and doing Kingdom work? Let me know at


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4 Things to Consider When Pain Interrupts your Class

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 NIV)

What do you do when pain interrupts your class? When no subject is off limits and a class really shows genuine care and vulnerability (Which You Should), pain will come out in the middle of your lesson. How do you handle it? Here are some thoughts:

1. Listen to what they are saying and not saying. This requires attentiveness. Some may just come out and say what is going on in their lives. Take time to listen and show empathy. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13 NIV) We need to empathize with persons in pain. We all have moments of pain in life. After listening, decide the next steps: Prayer for the person. Who else needs to know with permission? Care for them in the moment and beyond.

Perhaps a person is tearing up and not really talking. Take time after class to talk or set up a time to talk during the week.

2. Use Care Group Leaders to help you care during the week. A teacher cannot do it all. I recommend care groups, much like a deacon family ministry plan. (Contact me at to know how to set them up.)

3. Have an active prayer chain/prayer ministry. Pain happens during the week as well. Have Care Group Leaders contact you and you let Care Group Leaders contact their people on roll to begin a prayer chain for someone in pain.

4. Empower people of pain to find the resources they need. Some people can develop a co-dependency to your care. Help these individuals discover the strength within themselves and refer them to professional counselors for long term recovery. There are certain types of pain that needs therapy. Don’t try to handle this on your own. Ask your Pastor for referrals that would be helpful.

Pain happens to all of us. It is best to be prepared and have necessary ways to help the brokenhearted and those crushed in spirit.

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Four Ways to Communicate the Power of Scripture through Verbal Words, Written Words, Pauses and Pictures

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29 RSV)  Communication is ofte…

Source: Four Ways to Communicate the Power of Scripture through Verbal Words, Written Words, Pauses and Pictures

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Four Ways to Communicate the Power of Scripture through Verbal Words, Written Words, Pauses and Pictures

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29 RSV) 

Communication is often difficult for each person to hear/see what we are communicating. The right words, the right pauses and pictures can bring people closer to Christ. Here are some thoughts:

  1. Words take on a life of their own. God spoke the world into existence! The Hebrew understanding was spoken words could not be taken back. They took on a life of their own. (Genesis 27 makes it very clear. Once you have spoken the words, you cannot take them back.) We need to help class members realize the power of their words in class and outside of class. One false word, rumor, gossip can destroy a class. One encouraging word can help people soar!

Sometimes we are called to share a word of discipline. Make sure that your motivation is to help them grow in Christ! I had many in my lifetime shares words that I needed to hear. Some did it out of love, and some out of other motives.

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15 NIV)

  1. Written words can be just as damaging or uplifting! Be careful what you tweet, post on Facebook and more. I am so discouraged by Christians who post hateful, angry words to villainize others over political, social and even athletic opinions. Do we realize that we just put politics, social issues and sports above all of us “being in the image of God”? We can disagree respectfully and speak the truth in love. Please pray and think about what to say before you hit send or post!

I stay away from negativity, and try to send a positive quote, Scripture or thought each day on Facebook. It is a way of helping people think about the good things:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 NIV)

  1. Pauses matter in Sunday School/Small Groups and in life. Reflective learners learn best with silence. Give moments of silence for these persons to think through the Scripture and life application before they have to respond. I am an introvert. Though I speak to large groups, I need time to reflect and think about what God is doing in this situation- whether it is training teachers, preaching or Sabbath time for me each day. I need alone time to pray and reflect. What are you doing to help people do the same?
  1. Pictures are worth a thousand words! I learned that phrase early on, and it is true! Pictures and videos will increase retention levels on what you are learning. Use pictures and videos as a part of Bible study. Let me give one example. Knowing your why is more important than what you do. Check out the link:

When we understand the value of communication through words, pauses and pictures, your class will be transformed!

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4 Ways to Honor Sabbath & Sunday School

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15: 1-4 NIV)


How can we be the most productive SS teachers for our class/community? We need to make sure we have time for renewal and re-creation. One of the great reminders of this for me was my time in a discipleship huddle group last year. (If you are interested in huddle groups, contact John Chandler or Laura McDaniel in the Spence Network of Virginia Baptist life:

I was reminded of the need for Sabbath (not as a way to rest from all of my work), but the time to abide in Christ so I am more effective in my work. Here is the crux of it all: Do you work in order to have time to rest or recreation? Do you rest/abide in Christ in order to work out of God’s design for you? Too often our priorities get out of the appropriate order and we need to be reminded of time away from it all with God for rest, renewal, abiding and pruning. Here are some ideas for you as teachers to remain effective:


Take time each day for God. I am not talking about preparing a SS lesson. We each need some quiet time with God. It does not always have to be in your study. For me it is time while I am pushing a lawn mower, fishing, taking a prayer walk, working in a garden or in other methods while enjoying God’s creation. Whatever energizes you in your relationship with God is appropriate. Though prayer on bended knee is important, so is prayer in other ways each day.


Have a Sabbath day each week. God chose for each of us to have a Sabbath day to rest and abide.


Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:1-3 NIV)

For ministers and teachers, Sunday is not a Sabbath. We need another day in the week to seek renewal and rest if possible.

We need longer periods of time for pruning and abiding each year. Part of this time each year is seen as vacation. Often we pack so many items into the agenda that it seems like work! Pick some time each year to seek renewal for your soul, and whatever that would look like for you.

Part of this time is pruning for teachers. This is a time of training and renewal as well. Doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professions need continuing education each year. Why not SS teachers? We have the greatest responsibility in sharing God’s Word. Take time for training each year. You may want to take a Sunday off and go hear another teacher in your church or

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3 Ways to Reach Single Moms for Sunday School/Small Groups Revisited

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)

I have been travelling across the Commonwealth leading Sunday School training events over this Summer. I still don’t know of many churches reaching single moms. Here is hjust a reminder of how to reach them. Single moms is the fastest growing population of people groups in the U.S. today. There are over 19 million singles moms raising over 47 million children. 58% of the births last year were to single moms. 95% of single moms are unchurched. They do not feel as though they fit anywhere, or they are judged. They are open to a loving church that will accept them where they are, but not sure where that is. When they see a church has a class/small group for them, they come and bring their friends along with their children. What can you do to reach this population?

  1. Start a new class specifically for single moms. This may begin in a home, public meeting place or the church based on your culture. Most single moms are of the Millennial generation with some suspicion of the institutional church. Finding single moms in your church to help start this class may be the best solution, as they can tell friends and have empathy for other single moms.


  1. Provide a Mom’s night out and/or a special dinner. Offer to watch their children one evening while they go grocery shopping, clean house/wash clothes, have a dinner date or just get away for a while. Single moms are working and then have all the childcare/parenting duties when they get home.


Providing a dinner for the moms and children with some play time and devotional may be great as well-Perhaps using one of my other blogs as a theme:


  1. Adopt a grandchild. Katrina and I were fortunate to have two special ladies while I was Pastor of Bethel Baptist: Janice Burton and Virginia Clark that adopted our two when we were many miles from grandparents. Both children still think about them often. You have older adults who do not have children or their grandchildren live far away. Many would love to have time with children for a few hours or more and share God’s love with them.


The bottom line is we have an opportunity to love on people and reach people for Christ. Are you willing?

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