Director of Youth and Family Ministry
St. John’s Lutheran Church
It’s that time of the year when I, as the Youth Director of a Lutheran congregation in Wisconsin, begin to make decisions concerning what curriculum will be used for the Sunday and Wednesday faith formation programs that are offered. I have been the Director of Youth and Family Ministry for 20 years. During the month of June, I take time to go through the evaluations that volunteers have given concerning lesson plans, how difficult or easy they were to use, etc. For several years I was okay with continuing to do the Bible stories in the traditional format, reading the story, discussing the story, and then moving on to the next story for next week’s lesson. God kept tapping me on my shoulder until I realized that there was something better out there for our families. I realized that God was nudging me to explore adding the relationship piece of the stories with adults who were teaching the children so that the Bible stories from long ago could be relevant in our relationships and world today.
I began to search online for faith-based curriculum that involved building relationships with multiple age levels. After looking at many curricula, I decided on Sunday LIFT, which we used for kindergarten through 5th grade this year. Children from each age level were grouped together in a small group. The 5th grade children became buddies with the younger children to help and encourage them with activities, games, etc. The material was flexible and was applicable to all age levels working together. Several choices were available in each session so that adult leaders could choose what would be appropriate for their group. Sunday LIFT became Wednesday LIFT for our program. The time frame was one hour, which always went by very quickly. Songs and a short object lesson based on the story, with all of the small groups in the sanctuary, began our evening. Adult mentors, along with their group, moved to their rooms to continue sharing joys and concerns, reading and discussing the story, and playing a game or making a craft before closing with the Lord’s Prayer.
It makes my heart smile as I see a 5th grade youth waiting for parents of a younger child and before they part ways giving each other a hug or high five, knowing that they will be together again next week. Building relationships with the help of GenOn Ministries and Sunday LIFT has been amazing.
Other GenOn Connect Articles - September-October 2019