Posted in Stories

Today’s attendance: zero

The first two weeks were great. Five high schoolers came for week one when we tried to smash coconuts. The bible lesson was about Deborah, and Jael who drove a tent spike through the enemy general’s head in the book of Judges. It wasn’t so easy to drive a spike through a coconut, so we simply smashed it with a sladgehammer.

Seven middle and high schoolers came on week two for feats of strength and airing grievances. We talked about Samson and wise vs. foolish choices. The discussion kind of lagged until we talked about the Festivus custom of airing grievances. The room came to life. That they wanted to do. Just lay it all out.

I was stoked for week three. This was going way better than I imagined. I am trying to revive youth bible class at church, which has lay dormant for the past eighteen Covid months. Emails, texts, letters, postcards. And then, they showed up.It was worth the effort. This could be done.

Week three came and I was confident. This would be a great year. There was just one problem. No one showed up. Zip. Zero. Nada. An empty room. Not one student showed up.

OK. Time to stop and think about the current situation. Joint custody means many can only come every other week. Jobs mean some have to work on Sunday mornings. Covid means some will not be feeling well or will be quarantining. Weekends means some will be traveling. Some are spending the night with friends. Others are dancing competitively in far away places.

I believe the empty room was the perfect storm of all of the above. The attendance of one week is no predictor of the next. The fun of one week does not translate into the enthusiasm of the next. The classroom of today says nothing about the future.

The only thing you have is now.

If they are there, in the room, you have a moment to listen, question, teach and pray. If they are not there you have a moment to pray, listen, plan and trust. You are not the only influence in their lives. But by grace, you will be an influence.

So, week four comes. One youth is there. We wait. And we wait. OK, no one else is coming, you can go home. Ten minutes later the text comes, “Was I late, or did you cancel class?” Oh, me of little faith. If I had just waited a few more minutes!

I should know. On mission trips, I learned about island time. The clock is not so important. The people are. Their presence determines the time. It’s not the when, but the who that counts.

Lesson learned. Zero attendance doesn’t mean no one is coming. An empty room doesn’t mean class is cancelled. Wait just a few more moments.

Posted in Ministry

Snap, crackle, pop

Yesterday I got to teach our preschool Sunday School class about the time Jesus restored a man’s hearing. We covered our ears to understand what it might mean to not able to hear. We moved our lips without making a sound, too.

The snack that went along with the lesson was Rice Krispies and milk. None of the students were big cereal eaters, so this was new experience for them. They got to hear the snap, crackle and pop when we poured on the milk. Great fun. Of course, they didn’t stop there. They took a big spoonful, opened up their mouths so I could hear the sounds in there, too. And that’s not all. We quickly went through a batch of Rice Krispie treats.

On the playground afterwards, I asked, “So what was our lesson about today?” Of course, their first answer is, “I don’t know.” So I asked, “What was wrong with the man?” “He couldn’t hear.” “What did Jesus do?” “He took care of it.”

Not a bad answer. Not a bad answer at all. No matter what, Jesus takes care of it. I’ll have to remember that!

Posted in Ministry

Top ministry moments – #7: Teaching preschool Sunday School

In response to a sudden exodus of several Sunday School teachers, I decided to step back from teaching an adult Bible class on Sunday mornings and teach children. The age group we needed to fill was Kindergarten/Preschool, so that’s the class I took on. It was one of the best teaching years I’ve ever had.

I not only love to teach but I love children, so it was a double blessing. From sitting on a little chair at a little table to messy crafts to class trips to the bathroom, it was great. You can read more about my experience in my post “Things I’ve learned teaching preschool Sunday School.

I’m back to teaching adults for now, but I dream of the day I get to get another chance with the little ones. Thank you Riley, Reagan, Owen, Ariana, Savannah, Corbin, Isabelle, and Kiley for a great, top-ten year!



Posted in Ministry

Things I’ve learned teaching preschool Sunday School

Last summer, I decided to take a year off from teaching adult Bible classes on Sunday mornings to teach Sunday School. The one class that still needed a teacher was the preschool/kindergarten class. I love to teach, its one of my strengths, but did I have what it takes to handle the littlest ones? There was only one way to find out.

A year has gone by and it has been a wonderful blessing and experience for me. The materials we ordered from Concordia Publishing house were excellent, and provided me with more than enough ideas to keep the children interested and busy for an hour. I also have to thank Shari our preschool director, who has taught me so much about working with that age level for the last nineteen years. I’m also grateful that Sharon, one of our members who teaches kindergarten and first grade in the public schools, allowed me to volunteer in her class once a week. I learned something from her about teaching, classroom management, and discipline every time I am there.

Here’s what I’ve learned about teaching this age group:

  • Stickers rule. Every single child loves stickers. You cannot have too many stickers.
  • You also can’t have too much glue. We go through bottles of glue and glue sticks at an alarming rate. This is because the younger you are, the more glue you must use for a craft project.
  • Everyone needs their own container of crayons. A big bucket to share doesn’t work. But if everyone has a small container of crayons, they will share with each other. (Crayons are also homogeneous. For example, all the orange crayons will end up in one container.)
  • Give them a job. Everyone wants to help, so let them handle as many classroom tasks as you can. From handing out supplies to cleaning up, they all want something to do.
  • If any child gets a hold of a stapler, everything will end up with a staple in it.
  • Whoever taught me that a child’s attention span was the same number of minutes as their age was correct. After the opening, it will take twelve activities to keep a four-year-old busy for 48 minutes.
  • They want to do it themselves. Cutting, drawing, stapling, folding, gluing, tying, coloring and sticking stickers. So have all the hard stuff done ahead of time (like a hard shape to cut out). Once you’re in the room, you have to let them do it.
  • They absolutely love Jesus! (Even more than stickers!) They love everything about him. At this age, every story about his life and ministry reinforces their faith in an amazing way.
  • They are always hungry.
  • The time I have with them each week flies by. Attendance stickers, a page to color, a story to tell, a story leaflet to put stickers on, a song to sing, a verse to learn, and some crafts to make — before I know it, the parents have arrived to pick them up.
  • Very few children attend every week because the most active families only come twice a month at best. There are trips, illness, sleepovers, work and sports events that take up previously open weekend time.
  • Not one can sit in a chair for more than a minute. They either fall off, get up to reach something, get up to pick up something they dropped, come over to get my attention, or whatever. Perpetual motion!

I am about to return to teaching adults on Sunday mornings. It will probably take me a few weeks to adapt. Adult students tend to sit quietly passive in class and dare you to get them to talk. Maybe I will try stickers.



Posted in Grace, Ministry

I wish I could teach kids every week

Taking a break from teaching adults, I taught the kids in Sunday School today. For the summer, rather than having age-grouped classes, the ministries in our church (e.g. prayer shawls, choir, food bank, etc.) are each taking a week to help the children understand that activity and tie it in with a Bible story.

To kick things off, I represented the pastoral ministry of the church. With a wide selection of activities in my arsenal, I waded into the classroom and really had fun today. It’s been a while since I got to teach kids. We looked for lost sheep in the sanctuary, put band-aids on to remind us that pastors visit the sick, read the story from Nehemiah where God’s word was read and explained to the people, came up with worship words that were appropriate for God, and of course, had a snack. The high school class was there to help — a God-send to be sure.

How different each child was (no surprise). One just wanted to run. One just wanted to snack. One couldn’t wait to read from a new Bible he brought along with him. One filled a page with worship words. Another spent the whole time collecting trash. And I think most of them took home the Bible words, “Shepherd the flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2).

Rather than teaching adult classes on Sunday morning, I think I would pay to have the chance to teach children for a year. Even a quarter. I just love teaching kids. Someday, when I’m retired, and attending church, you can count on me to to teach a children’s Sunday School class.