Most Bible classes for children are almost independent of one another. An entire lesson and its activities are completed in one class period. The quarter may have an overarching theme, but each class can stand on its own.
I think I understand the reasoning behind designing curriculum in this way. Children often miss Bible classes for illness, school activities and vacations. Visitors may attend class only once or twice before returning to a home congregation. Writers did not want anyone to feel as if they had missed too much to return to class. Having lessons totally independent of one another means you can attend class once every six weeks and not feel as if you have missed anything.
And that’s a problem. You see, often the biggest motivator for Bible class attendance is the child. If a child is passionate about attending class and not missing even one, the parents are much more likely to adjust their plans so the child can attend. (Possibly feeling a little guilty their child has to be the one to encourage church attendance?!)
So what is a great way to have kids push their parents towards that church building or faith based program? Have an ongoing project that takes several weeks to complete. If planned properly, your students will want to rush to class to work on the next stage of your project. Visitors may even push their parents to return to your class.
In order to be truly effective, you need to remember a few things as you plan your projects:
- Projects should have a strong tie to the lessons or theme for that period of time. If you are discussing how Dorcas served the widows and the poor, working on a project about life in Egypt is not your best choice.
- The project should be meaningful. If you are learning about different times when God provided food for His people, a project making paper mache food items is not your best choice. Projects can be deceptive in that way. Just because you are studying food, doesn’t mean everything connected to food adds meaning to the lesson. On the other hand, studying how hunger effects people’s ability to learn about, worship and serve God and then conducting a food drive for the poor adds practicality to the principles you are teaching.
- The project should be relatively short. If a project continues beyond a few weeks, it has to be absolutely amazing or your students will begin to lose interest – even in a project. The point of completing a class project is lost once your students lose interest in the project.
- Don’t allow the project to take the entire class period. There are some projects which may take most of several class periods to complete. In general though, you still need to spend some time in the Bible – either reviewing the stories and principles connected to the project or introducing a new Bible lesson or scripture to add additional meaning. You also need to spend some time every class period reviewing what you have studied and learned over the course of the project. Not just for visitors or kids who were absent, but also to cement the godly principles in the hearts and minds of your students.
- Students should have an opportunity to see the results their project has on others. Many projects in Bible classes revolve around service and missions. You will greatly enhance what your students learn from the project if they see the actual results. Have them deliver the finished product. Read them thank you notes or have people come to class and tell them how their project touched them. Students need to understand there is a connection between what we do and how it touches people’s lives and hopefully points them to Jesus.
Planning a meaningful class project can take a little more time and effort on your part. When done well though, projects can increase attendance and will definitely increase the amount on practical heart knowledge your students get from your class. If you need some ideas, feel free to contact us or keep watching this site for project ideas.