Not What, but Who

This past spring we hired Ron Rudaitis to replace Linda Temperino as our church school director. I am thrilled to be working with Ron as he brings a strong educational background and a deep faith to this very important position. And, though, the search is complete, the process has left me thinking about church school curriculum and faith development.

A big decision for any church to make is the curriculum they will use for their children’s church school classes. There are many different approaches and there are materials available from a range of publishers. Elements to consider include theological outlook, approach to the Bible, age appropriateness, and teacher abilities . Our church has used the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum for many years as the theology and the ease of use are a good match for our church. It is also lectionary-based so the children are studying the same scripture texts in their class as I am preaching on in worship. We have been very happy with this curriculum.

As important as the curriculum is, to me it is not the most important element of a good classroom. By far, the more important part of church school are the teachers. What you remember from Sunday school classes from your childhood? What comes to mind?

Perhaps it was just too long ago, but I cannot remember any particular lesson. Given where I ended up in life we can assume that some of it sunk into my memory, but what I recall are the people who taught it. It was the teachers who shared their time and faith with me that made the biggest difference in my faith development. We learn best when we seek to emulate an elder, and our church school teachers are an essential element of any child’s faith development.

In our church we have a co-op style teacher rotation in which the parents take turns teaching the classes–with a few treasured non-parent volunteers. What makes our classes effective is not only the care these volunteers take in their classes, but, more importantly, their presence–they demonstrate how important God and the church are by just being there. This is one of the most important reasons for families to join our church–we have wonderful people who will be helping to lead their children!

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