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.)