I’ve gotten a few questions about my post, 7 Things That Are Working Well in Virtual Sunday School, that make it clear I need to clarify how we do Virtual Sunday School.
In our context, virtual Sunday School is a LIVE event, held (almost) weekly on Zoom on Sunday mornings. I’m aware that in this season, this is fairly unusual choice for Sunday School. Most ministries that are virtual are recording messages for young people to watch with their parents whenever they’re able to. Here are 7 reasons why we opted to hold Virtual Sunday School as a live event rather than pre-recorded lessons.
1. Our virtual Vacation Bible School experiment showed us that LIVE events CAN work on Zoom for young people if they’re high energy and engaging.
2. When something’s a live event, it goes on a family’s calendar. You show up for it – even if it’s virtual. In contrast, when someone provides you with something that you can do whenever you’re able, despite your best intentions, more often than not, it doesn’t get done. The urgent almost always crowds out the space for those things, which just get lost in the shuffle.
3. Live events form community. Like it or not, from a very young age, a young person’s primary reason for WANTING to attend Sunday School and church is their friends. By having a live Sunday School event most weeks, we’re giving young people the chance to form relationships and friendships with other people their age. When they see other young people show up to virtual Sunday School each week, it feeds their excitement; They want to show up too so that they can see their friends. Utilizing small groups as part of Sunday School helps form these relationships as well.
4. Live events allow us to utilize other leaders well, which will (hopefully) preserve our leadership core when it’s time to regather in person.
5. Live events serve as a placeholder for post-pandemic life. Like many others, I worry if we’ll ever be able to reengage young families in the life of our congregation once the pandemic ends. After nearly a year without going to the church every Sunday, this is going to be a tricky proposition. And maybe that’s good. That said, having a live event serves as a placeholder; It invites families to reserve space on Sunday morning for church. I’m confident that regardless of what’s next for the church, this will end up being important.
6. Live events give me energy. A few weeks before the holiday, I realized how burnt out I was after a year with no real breaks (in ministry, family life, etc.) When I realized what was going on, I made a point of talking to my boss and another colleague. My colleague graciously offered to lead Sunday School or confirmation for me. While I appreciated that offer immensely, what I didn’t realize until that moment was how much live events actually feed my soul. Even as an introvert, my time with young people (of any age) ALWAYS energizes me. Merely doing the prep work without having that time with young people is incredibly draining; Recording a teaching video each week without any sort of feedback loop sounds, quite honestly, awful.
7. Live events enable me to teach experientially, in a way that I couldn’t in a video. This is core to who I am as well as how I believe young people learn best.
For more from Jen, check out her newest book, Called: A Novel about Youth Ministry Transition.