THE FOCUS OF THE SUNDAY SCHOOL HOUR is Bible education (information). We also trust that the Holy Spirit does transforming work in us (formation) as we spend time in God’s Word and make connections to our everyday lives. Therefore, our classes focus on building a strong foundation of biblical knowledge and teaching how to study Scripture, reinforced with opportunities for children to respond in acts of worship and time in prayer, as well as discussion.
As we examine the Bible together, we are always looking for who God is and what God is doing, not just identifying moral lessons or stories of great heroes. We help children to see the arc of the Bible as one story of redemption, and we emphasize with each lesson that 1) The Bible is true and trustworthy 2) God is the main character of the story and 3) we have a very important role to play in God’s continuing story.
Sunday School Classes
All kids begin the Sunday School hour together in Opening Music, then divide into three classes for the remainder of the hour.
Preschool-Kindergarten: 3’s through 5’s
After enjoying singing and fellowship with our “big kids,” our young ones are guided to their classroom to play together, enjoy a snack, and listen to a Bible story. Each week we repeat the Bible story that was presented in their Worship Center that morning so that repetition builds familiarity for our little ones.
Young Elementary: 1st–3rd Grade
Our Young Elementary program focuses on the major themes of the Bible by teaching chronologically through the whole Bible over a three year cycle, always looking for what we can know about God through each story. After the Bible story, children engage in creative extension activities to help them process the Bible story and make connections to their own lives. The final portion of our time is spent in our Prayer Centers (see below). Our young elementary class uses The Gospel Project curriculum, which places special emphasis on seeing Jesus throughout the whole Bible.
Older Elementary: 4th–5th Grade
Our Older Elementary program uses Phil Vischer’s What’s in the Bible? curriculum, which focuses on biblical literacy in a fun and engaging way, and is a great fit for this age. This class takes the kids on a two-year cycle through every book of the Bible, while also learning things like, What’s a Septuagint? What is redemption? Why are there two testaments? Who wrote the Bible? What is sanctification? How do we know the Bible is trustworthy? Who picked the books that are in the Bible? Once a month our older kids join their younger friends in the Prayer Centers (see below), in order to continue to encourage the practice of prayer.
We believe that children need time and space in their lives to process what they are learning about their faith, and to practice responding to God. Children become more comfortable with the idea of prayer as they are given various opportunities to try it themselves, in a setting that is calm and low pressure. Providing this experiential time also acknowledges that they are just as capable of talking to God and listening to God as adults.
In our prayer centers, children have the opportunity to write private prayers to God, to receive prayer from a friend, to contemplate names of God, to leave their prayer requests at the foot of the cross, and to hold their Immanuel brothers and sisters in prayer. We have found this to be a precious time for children and adult Shepherds alike; year after year we see children grow in their confidence as they pray boldly for each another, reminding one another about truth and hope found in Jesus.