One of the very few benefits of the COVID epidemic is that we were finally experimenting with ways to make sure children and teens continued their spiritual education when they couldn’t attend Bible class or classes weren’t held for some reason. Throughout the pandemic, we monitored various models and found several that we believed made the best of a situation that was detrimental to Church provided spiritual education.
Why are we sharing these now? Because even though the pandemic is over, there are other reasons students miss Bible classes. One or more of them may be out of town or ill. Your congregation may be one of those that uses Bible class times for rehearsals for Christmas musicals or cancels all Bible classes for a special event. You may even have weather that prevents people from traveling to the building. In the past, those circumstances meant students missed out on the little spiritual education time they did receive – which while still inadequate is all some of them ever get. Now you have options to engage your students even when they are absent or class doesn’t happen for some reason.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Online virtual class. Zoom and other platforms have safeguards now that prevent strange adults from popping into your classroom. Some modalities created for educators can also be used by the general public for classroom lessons. Try to schedule the class for a time when the most students can attend and send multiple reminders. Most people are comfortable with Zoom now, so there shouldn’t be a lot of technical problems. You can search online for best practices for online classes to make sure yours are well attended and effective.
- Lesson packets sent to the home. This works best of course when you know ahead that class will be missed. It does require extra time for putting the packets together and delivering or mailing them. We know a children’s Bible class teacher in CA who did this every week for months on end during COVID. She paired the activities in the packet with an online class time. She and the children did the crafts and activities together while they were online. When just one student is involved, you can include detailed instructions or set up a private FaceTime or Zoom time to talk about the lesson and activity. The bonus benefit of delivering them to homes is that it also doubles as a home visit if you can interact with the child or teen when dropping them off.
- Vacation lessons. These are one lesson packets not designed to fit into the curriculum, but can be given to children who know they will miss class because of vacation or surgeries, etc. Because they don’t fit into the curriculum, you can have fun with Bible stories they may normally never hear. Better yet, you can make multiples of the same packet to use with multiple children who are going on vacation. Just make sure to have two or three lessons no one has used yet for those children who travel frequently or take extra long vacations. Make the packets even better by making them family friendly so everyone can participate.
- Special family devotions. These work really well when church is cancelled for weather. Choose Bible stories that involve weather or something like serving others the families can do at home with whatever they have. Make the activity fun and interactive. If it’s a fun day to play in the snow, see if you can tie the activity to the family spending time outside together doing something connected to the lesson.
- Book “reports”. Loan the child or teen a Christian book you believe they will enjoy and grow spiritually from reading. Or suggest they read an interesting book of the Bible that may be new to them. Then find time when they return to talk about what they read. Note: If this is a vacation, be prepared for the book to accidentally be left behind!
Young people today don’t spend nearly enough time learning everything God wants them to know. Don’t let them lose yet another hour of crucial educational time. Use the models above to give them another way to learn when Bible class is disrupted.