Yesterday I asked if Sunday school has outlived its usefulness and commented on an article by Melissa Pandika where she talked about how families are not participating in Sunday school as much as they once did. More and more families are opting out of Sunday school and mid week ministry as well; this is something I think we all see in our ministries.
So, what do we do to reverse this trend? Do we go the route of trying the latest and "greatest" new "gimmicks" to get children to participate? Does this mean we have to work more to "entertain" children so we can "compete" with sports and other activities in which children are participating?
As I said yesterday, "God's Word has absolutely NOT outlived its usefulness, so I believe the 'answer' is not to try new 'gimmicks' to get children and families to return. While we may choose to offer a special event from time to time to generate enthusiasm and reach out, particularly to those who do not already participate in our children's ministry, the answer is to focus on helping children understand God's Word is for them."
Gimmicks may build enthusiasm for a short time, but God's Word is eternal. God's Word helps us know God and understand how to build a relationship with Him. Knowing and walking with God is far better, far more exciting and far more enduring than any gimmick or the latest and greatest new thing. Building "hype" will not last, but helping children learn to truly build their lives on the Rock will.
If we rely on "gimmicks" or "entertaining" children we may unintentionally communicate to them they need these things because God's Word is too boring or just for adults. But, when we focus on getting children to actually open their Bible and to look for information and how to find answers in God's Word, then we do the opposite. We help them learn God's Word is for them as we communicate they can understand it! We teach them God's Word is exciting because as they spend time in it, they will build a real relationship with God and doing so is absolutely NOT boring!
It may be easy to jump on board the latest "fad" in children's ministry, but this is not the answer. We have to help children build real relationships with God and if we do this our Sunday school will be a place where children want to be and will still be a "useful" and valuable place for them to be.
What do you do to help children learn God's Word is for them?