Q We do not have many children in our church. Our volunteers are wondering if it is worth their time and the church’s resources to have a Sunday school class with only one or two children.
A The short answer is yes. It is important that everyone in the church feels like they matter—and that includes children. Children need to hear the stories of God presented in age-appropriate ways, even if there are only one or two children. Putting children together with adults other than their parents in a variety of settings has significant benefits.
But volunteers also get tired, so we need to do what we can to use our resources well. One important task for a pastor or church leader is to cast a vision for what the congregation committed to in our baptismal vows. No matter what Sunday school looks like in your church, leaders should support the volunteers through public prayer and encouragement as well as in very concrete ways such as providing materials needed to teach a lesson. This allows volunteers to focus their energy on teaching their lessons well and spending time with the kids.
Sunday school is one way a church can teach children Bible stories and build relationships that support and encourage the faith growth of children—but it is not the only way. Some churches have been very creative in finding other times and places to encourage and support faith growth. Changing the time and day of the program, assigning mentors, having intergenerational church school, or having a family night all have worked for some churches.
About the Authors
Laura Keeley is a regional catalyzer for Faith Formation Ministries in the CRCNA and director of childrens ministries at 14th St. CRC in Holland, Mich.
Robert J. Keeley is Professor of Education Emeritus at Calvin University and a music leader at 14th St CRC in Holland, MI.