Rotation Sunday school adds numbers at Troy
By Tracey Malone
Director, Sunday school rotation
The traditional way to teach Sunday school wasn’t bringing in new souls to Troy United Methodist Church. It wasn’t even keeping the children we had interested. So, in January of 2008, we made plans to change our teaching style and, hopefully, increase the number of children coming.
As it turned out, the Rotational Model we selected does just that–it keeps the children interested and makes them want to come every week so they don’t miss a fun Sunday.
Our goals and objectives in each lesson are taught by repetition over a six-week period. The children learn to locate the story in the Bible, identify the characters in the story, memorize the scripture that relates to the story, sing a song, and just have fun learning God’s word.
We use the Rotation website to find the lesson plans best suited to the needs of our church. We have six different workshops set up and use only three at a time. The workshops consist of storytelling, movie theatre, computer lab, art workshop, drama stage, and a music/game workshop.
The planning for Rotation Sunday school was supported church-wide with a remodeling project along with the preparation of the six different workshops.
The first half of the six weeks session is focused on learning the story with storytelling, a movie theatre, and computer lab.
In the storytelling workshop, we have one to three different people telling the Bible story–either directly from the Bible or from a book. The children of each group, on their particular Sunday, sit on the floor around a large two-foot-high table. Storytellers also have a mural of a map to refer to and feltboards for added effect, if needed.
The movie theatre workshop is another way to have the same story/lesson in a different way. As the children go to this workshop, they are “at the movies” with a large mounted TV and popcorn from a popcorn machine. Our movie room is painted black and we have black padded chairs. The movies are related to the story, just another way to reinforce the teaching of the lesson.
In our computer lab, we have refurbished computers set up with programs that tell the story and games and activities to incorporate what has been learned. All of the software is purchased online.
The second half (three weeks) of our rotation focuses on reviewing what was taught the first half.
Reviewing is emphasized with art, drama, games and music workshops.
The art room is decorated with a “Garden of Eden” theme with Adam and Eve mural and a crafty “Tree of Good and Evil”. A snake is hanging from a tree branch to tempt weak souls. We have two tables set up with art stools and a wall of shelves to accommodate craft supplies. The art room gives children a chance to have time to work on a fun craft and not just color another coloring sheet to go along with the Bible story. Some of the crafts we’ve done so far are seashell wind chimes for “Jonah and the Whale”, glittery snow gloves for “Wise Men Seek Him” and a hospitality quilt for “Mary and Martha”.
The drama setup has a stage on which to perform with a curtained closet beside the stage that houses costumes used to dress up as various Bible characters. We either act out different skits or use puppets to review the story for the rotation. A mural of the Last Supper is painted on the wall behind the stage.
Lastly, the game/music workshop is used for different types of quizzing games to review the story and as a practice time for ringing bells or singing. One game we use starts with a large floor canvas we painted to use for a game board. The children are the game pawns and they move toward the finish line depending on correct answers to the questions asked from the story being taught. This promotes a fun atmosphere and also helps them to review.
The Rotation Sunday school program was a big endeavor for our small church. We had an average of only 5-10 kids coming on a regular basis to Sunday school. After a year of planning and preparing, our big endeavor is truly being blessed by God. We have begun our fourth rotation and are now averaging 15-20 kids in Sunday school. Our church has new families coming.
It’s so exciting to share Bible stories with these children in a way that will stay with them for years to come. Our church is so proud of what we have accomplished and for our opportunity to teach God’s word to more of His children. •