As we welcome in the new year, it is obvious that the “old year” is still upon us in many ways. COVID19 and the numerous related restrictions it has brought about are still in place around the country and even throughout the world. For that reason, many churches continue to face challenges in fully implementing their usual children’s discipleship programs.While we don’t know what factors we will have to manage in the year ahead, we do know that Scripture commands us to persevere in teaching the next generation the glorious deeds of the LORD and the hope of the gospel. Like Paul, we should be committed to “teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” toiling “with all [Jesus’] energy that he powerfully works within" us (Colossians 1:28-29).What will it take to teach the next generation in 2021?Here below are four critical commitments followed by three teaching scenarios in which to apply the commitments:
1. Build from a biblical vision for discipleship
Instead of working towards re-starting children’s programs as they existed in early 2020, many churches have the opportunity to rethink key components of their children’s ministry and to rebuild with programs, activities, lessons, and resources anchored in a more robust biblical vision for discipleship. This is also a valuable time for parents to do the same by considering what it will require to guide their children toward mature faith in Christ.
2. Grow in partnership between church and home
Over the past year, churches and parents have experienced additional challenges in partnering together for a consistent discipleship model. After adjusting to children’s programs not being able to meet in person, or managing virtual classrooms or the disruption of in-person arrangements that were on and off again, churches and families need a shared commitment to partner together more than ever.This would also be a great time to share with families a vision and practical suggestions for including children in the worship service.
3. Put a rock of truth under children
The year ahead has the potential to move toward something resembling a pre-pandemic normal and yet we have no guarantee of that. We, and our children, may instead continue to face unexpected challenges and uncertainty. It’s more clear now that children need to build their lives on an unshakable rock—God’s truth. When inevitable troubles come, we want children to stand firm on the truth of God’s sovereign rule, His goodness and mercy, and His sure promises. We want them to have a rock-solid faith that remains steadfast and proves genuine in the face of the challenges we’re facing now, but also for whatever trouble may come their way in the future. Additionally, these troubling times provide opportunities to impress upon our children the all-satisfying treasure and joy that can only be found in Jesus!
4. Pray with dependence on God’s sovereign grace
SCENARIOS FOR TEACHING FORMATS
As the new year begins, there is still no “one size fits all” regarding programming and resources for churches and homes. Some churches will be able to offer in-person classes, though many will be in a modified format. Some will have their teachers video lesson presentations for viewing in the home. Some churches will provide parents with resources to use at home. Some will use elements of each of these scenarios or come up with other creative solutions.How can you best disciple children within the specific challenges and restrictions at your church? Find your scenario based on this decision tree and then see the recommendations for that scenario below.
Plan curriculum based on how classes are able to meet.
Some churches are planning toward resuming Sunday school and midweek programs as normal in age-appointed classes using curricula that follow the regular scope and sequence plan. However, many churches need to offer a hybrid model. Here is what a hybrid may look like:
If you are considering offering a hybrid model, Truth78 has resources to help you. Here are some recommendations:
Whether teaching in person as usual or using a hybrid model, if at all possible, make a video recording of the teaching session that can be sent to those who are not able to participate in class. Additionally, you can find more support for intergenerational teaching in this free training seminar: “Intergenerational Teaching: Why and How?"
Provide video lessons and home support.
If at all possible, it is preferable to provide children with teaching in the new year that is age-appropriate and continues the scope and sequence in a seamless manner. This will help ensure that you present children with the breadth and depth of the whole counsel of God. What would this option entail?
If it is not feasible to do remote teaching for every grade level included in your regular scope and sequence, consider using one curriculum or resource to span the entire family. Here are some recommendations:
Some churches have determined that it is still not feasible to meet in person or provide remote teaching. But the church can and should do whatever possible to encourage and equip parents to diligently disciple their children at home. In this scenario, it’s important for the church to follow up with parents on a regular basis to see how it’s going and address any problems. Truth78 has a variety of resources designed for use in the home. Churches can recommend and even provide these resources for families.