By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
Toilet paper spewing out of makeshift leaf blowers. Participants frantically gathering rows of it that were strewn around the auditorium. The audience cheering. The room appearing to be in chaos as a designated player stands motionless on stage while game participants wrap him/her with oodles of TP they collected. The side that finishes wrapping up their ‘mummy’ first, wins raffle tickets for a chance to score a brand new 2018 Chevy Malibu. The excitement was real! And so was my skeptical mind that barked in my head “how does anything here relate to making disciples of children through Sunday School?” But since I was there already, and was given a scholarship to attend, and with literally hundreds of committed Sunday School teachers from all over the country cheering on, I thought “Why not just go with it?” (To see the video go to https://youtu.be/64rp2dvITYA or search ‘youtube trinity united methodist church kidmin conference’) And seriously, I learned a lot from the Kidmin Conference that was held in Nashville Oct 3-5. Here are some of the takeaways from my participation.
Games Serve Useful Functions in Spiritual Development
Repeatedly the presenters and workshop speakers promoted the use of games and other engaging strategies to teach students. Games often offer life lessons; plus, students love playing them. I’ve shared this point with teachers and encouraged them to utilize them in class.
I would like to dedicate a shelf in the Fellowship Building to store board and other kinds of games. If you have some that you no longer use or need, please consider donating them.
Teachers Require Attention and Encouragement
About a fourth of the workshops were dedicate to (and half of the speakers for the main sessions mentioned) encouraging teachers and children’s pastors. One speaker said, “If you’re thinking about quitting, you’re not alone. But here’s the good news; we’re here to encourage you and to remind you that you’re making an eternal difference in the kids. So keep at it!” Lack of volunteers, average of 1.3 Sundays a month attendance, and lack of gratitude and attention from church leaders and members are some reasons for discouragement. But I want to remind us, we love our teachers! Please let them know.
Teachers Need Resources
One of the many benefits from the conference is receiving valuable lessons and tips from speakers and workshops. I bought some books and found others in our library. I will have them available for our teachers in the Fellowship Building. Look for them in Room 301!
Our Students Require Both Engaging and Contemplative Activities
Engaging programs and activities will attract and retain students at Trinity. At the same time, contemplative programs should be offered to counter the over stimulated environment around us. The conference was about engagement, creativity and creating excitement. However, a contemplative approach was never mentioned. But the absence of it, screamed even louder in my mind. There is a need for silence and introspection. Even though we might not recognize the need for Sabbath, silence and slowing down, I urge parents and teachers to find creative ways to find that quiet center.
Our heartfelt thanks goes out to Ray Gilmer, Melissa Harris, Barbara Long, and Loren Monroe for their generosity in donating AV equipment for Sunday School classes!