Successful Summer in a Small Church

From the Open Files of:

Eastern North Dakota Resource Center , 701-232-3180

Contributed by:

Hope Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND

This file is available in
Rich Text Format version for editing

Successful Summer
In a Small Church

Combining traditional classroom teaching with learning centers proved to be a most successful summer church school program for our parish. "Shalom" was the theme for all age groups. Adults and senior highs used a manual provided in the study series, for reading and discussion. Students of Grade 1 through Junior High also participated in learning centers.

Since we are a rather small church, the potential membership for church school from Grade 1 through Junior High is only seventeen persons, so we offered no more than two learning centers each Sunday. On occasion, we used learning centers for the entire hour; other times we combined a classroom situation and learning centers, or used the classroom situation for the entire hour. The learning centers provided a variety of types of activity, from baking bread to learning Bible verses, and from making Shalom stoles and flags to learning Shalom songs in a music center.

Integrated with Worship

All the learning center activities were used in two Jubilee Celebrations for the Sunday morning worship service. The bread was used for communion; the Shalom flags, banners, and stoles were used as part of a processional and then placed in the chancel area; the Shalom songs were sung during the service, and the Bible verses were repeated. Our pastor, The Rev. Bob Reid, effectively included the children in the worship hour, not as performers, but as participants. The children sat on the chancel steps as they talked with Mr. Reid about the meaning of the Shalom and the projects each child had brought to the service. The congregation joined in singing the Shalom songs and repeating the blessing.

The materials used were designed for a Vacation Church School program, so we needed to adapt them for weekly church school. Since we needed more time than the usual forty-five minute Sunday morning study period we reversed the congregational worship and Sunday School meeting times: we held worship first and shortened it so that the church school hour could be lengthened. One pleasant surprise was that reversing the times caused the size of the adult class to increase more than double. (It seemed easy for them to stay once they were there for worship.) Because the materials were originally designed for two-and-a-half-hour sessions, there was an abundance of learning activities from which to choose.

Our staff consisted of a director, one teacher for each class by age levels, and teachers who rotated for the learning centers. We used teachers persons who did not teach on a regular basis throughout the year, allowing regular teachers to enjoy summer vacation. We also involved our college students who were home for the summer and did not have a regular church class of their own. They served well in several of the learning centers.

Advantages Observed

There were many favorable comments about our "Shalom" summer program. I saw these advantages:

We were able to adapt good materials to a small church situation. To some degree, the children were able to contribute to and participate in two worship services. There was a sense of unity among all ages because it was carried over into the worship service. We were able to relieve our full-time teachers for a short time and rotate the learning center teachers, thus involving more persons in the church school program.

Because of the enthusiastic response, we are planning a similar creative summer church school program this year.

[ SUMMER ] • [ HOME ]

© Copyright 2003 by the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin Resource Center. Please see our usage policy.

NW Synod of Wisconsin Resource Center