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Am I over-reacting? Sunday School frustrations


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We joined a church a few years ago that we like quite a bit. The people are very nice and easy to get along with and we like the pastor's sermons quite a bit. I got really frustrated recently because they are changing the format of the Sunday School. Instead of having one teacher for each classroom for the whole year, they are several different teachers rotating throughout the school year. So one teacher would be there in September, and then another in October, and so on. Some of the people on the list of teachers I do not even know and others are people who infrequently come to church. I know the intent of this system was to get more parents involved, but I am really worked up because it is so very inconsistent (my kids do much better in a consistent environment), AND, I feel like some of these people were signed up as teachers somewhat unwillingly and are doing it because they feel obliged, not because they love children and want to teach them. My dh thinks I'm overreacting, but I am really upset about this and I feel like it's not a good set-up. I don't want to be known as a complainer, but should I bring this concern up to the church? Thanks for any advice!

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I'm a SS teacher, and I really love the way our church does it -- they have the "A" team and the "B" team and alternate months. So every other month I teach and the in between months, I get to go to service and be fed by the preacher.

 

However, when they don't get people signing up, or people drop out mid year, then yeah it feels like you have a lot of changes of parents as they just scramble to get anyone at all to cover the class

 

They have NEVER turned down someone volunteering to take both "A" and "B" and be in the class every Sunday. So perhaps you could volunteer to teach every week in your kid's class?

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Our church alternates weeks with preschool and elementary age teachers. That way, the kids get consistency but the teachers get a break to go to the service themselves. That seems to work well.

 

When I have issues with the way our church is running something, I typically wait and see how things shake out. Dh and I are personal friends with the pastor and his wife (go to dinner as couples, etc) so if I think something truly needs to be addressed, we will speak to them about it. Often I just need time to have my own feelings about changes and don't ever address it. Sometimes I do address it because it is an ongoing issue which needs some fixing. I try to pick my battles, so to speak, which gives my "complaints" more weight when I make them.

 

Also, I am loathe to bring up a problem for which I am not willing to be the solution. The kids' workers are all volunteers. I appreciate them. I hesitate to complain because I am not willing to take on being a children's worker at this point.:tongue_smilie: That said, I recently did give feedback about a volunteer worker because of an ongoing issue which was a problem for my kids. The issue was addressed quickly and efficiently.

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Ours rotates seasonally. You have one teacher for Sept-Nov, then a different one for Dec-Feb, etc. Our SS curriculum is set up this way, so it seemed like a more natural rotation schedule.

 

We have not had any issues with it.

 

Focus on the positives:

 

Someone 'fresh' every new cycle.

Different strengths and abilities every new cycle.

A new creative eye every cycle.

 

It is sooo easy to get stuck in a rut with children's ss class. Next thing you know, your getting a piece of paper made into a card with stickers on it or a palcemat every week :lol:. This doesn't seem to happen anymore. I can understand being leery of it, but give it a chance :)

Edited by jewellsmommy
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AND, I feel like some of these people were signed up as teachers somewhat unwillingly and are doing it because they feel obliged, not because they love children and want to teach them.

 

I wanted to say something about this part, too.

 

If you want only teachers who are motivated by a love for teaching kids in Sunday School, you need to be willing to accept that the church might not be able to have classes for all of the kids.

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We joined a church a few years ago that we like quite a bit. The people are very nice and easy to get along with and we like the pastor's sermons quite a bit. I got really frustrated recently because they are changing the format of the Sunday School. Instead of having one teacher for each classroom for the whole year, they are several different teachers rotating throughout the school year. So one teacher would be there in September, and then another in October, and so on. Some of the people on the list of teachers I do not even know and others are people who infrequently come to church. I know the intent of this system was to get more parents involved, but I am really worked up because it is so very inconsistent (my kids do much better in a consistent environment), AND, I feel like some of these people were signed up as teachers somewhat unwillingly and are doing it because they feel obliged, not because they love children and want to teach them. My dh thinks I'm overreacting, but I am really upset about this and I feel like it's not a good set-up. I don't want to be known as a complainer, but should I bring this concern up to the church? Thanks for any advice!

 

I agree, my boys would Not in be the classes that way -- not sure the best solution, but it is not an acceptable situation.

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Unless you are going to volunteer to "do it right" complaining isn't going to get you anywhere.

:iagree:

Personally, I think its unfair to expect one person to teach every Sunday. They deserve to partake in fellowship too, not just be with kids every week.

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In my congregation, Bible class teachers are usually in for about 13 weeks (2 6.5 week sessions), then they rotate out. If there are two teachers in a class (like the 18 month-2 year old class and sometimes the 3-4 year old class if it's large), they'll rotate on different cycles, so one teacher will stay while the other one gets rotated out, thus giving the kids some consistency. That's usually most important in the youngest class, where the kids aren't used to leaving mom.

 

I've never seen a kid at my church have a problem with changing teachers. And as a teacher myself, I can't imagine staying in the whole year! I've taught 2 year olds and 3-4 year olds, and it's a LOT of work to prep every week (twice a week, since we meet Sunday and Wednesday). Plus I like to learn from the adult class sometimes too. I like the 13 week schedule. I'm in long enough to enjoy teaching and do a good work, but then I get some adult class time also.

 

My church wouldn't have people teaching that didn't want to teach though. We ask for volunteers. If no one volunteers, they might approach someone that they think would be a good teacher, but someone who doesn't even come to church would NOT be a candidate at all. I think for the 3-4 year old class right now, there are 4 teachers, so the same 4 teachers are used throughout the year, but they rotate in and out. Usually teachers stay in the same grade unless they ask to move to a different grade (sometimes you get burnt out on 18 month-2 year olds and want to teach a class where kids can ask questions and you don't have to cut out stuff to prepare).

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My former church rotated quarterly. This one rotates whenever a teacher wants to move out. Some have been teaching their class for years now. However, without a regular system I know teachers who have also experienced serious burnout and no replacement in sight.

 

I would not like for the teacher to change every week for the little ones. They need consistency. Monthly though, I think that could work out. I know this year for summer classes we had to have several changes due to vacations and the kids handled it very well. The classroom never changed, the curriculum didn't change, and usually the assistant was the same, so that helped give continuity.

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Our church rotates monthly. Is it great? No, but it's not bad either. Every teacher has to have a background check. And there are ALWAYS two adults per class. Even though it is a monthly rotation, most teachers do at least 2-3 months per year. This allows teachers to have their own Sunday School class to go to, and be fed in their small group. Since some of you seem to have SS at the same time as church, I would think it would be even more important to have a rotation since no one should miss services for a long period of time. In these cases, do the children not worship at all? Ours can go to the Childrens Worship during the sermon, if they'd like, but that is not in place of SS, and it's just during the sermon portion of worship.

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I help coordinate volunteers at our church. Finding people to volunteer week-in and week-out is not easy. About half of our volunteers do that, but even they go out of town, have sick kids, and get sick themselves. The other half do every other week. We also have a group that does door security, a group who coordinates (get things teachers need, make sure rooms are staffed, handle emergencies), a group who are on-call as substitutes, a group that prepares curriculum, people that come in mid-week to clean out toys and organize rooms, and a group who floats anywhere they are needed. It takes a LOT of people to run childrens programming.

 

Do kids do better with the same people every week? Sure. But that's the ideal. We keep the rooms and routines the same, by giving them curriculum and posting schedules, and the kids do fine.

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This is a trend that our old church was considering. It was not the ideal answer, but the church could no longer get enough teachers anymore to commit to a whole year. They are trying to be creative with what they have, in order to continue being able to offer Sunday school to children.

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This is a trend going through a lot of churches.

 

We just spent a year teaching, and miss our own Sunday School class terribly. We feel completely disconnected to all of our friends, even though we all try to keep connected. We've missed out on so many things. We are switching to the rotation system with another couple this year - each of us is doing every other month. This way, we get semi-consistency in the class, we all get fed, we all work.

 

I'd love to say we should be selfless and teach the full year, but we're so burned out, needing to be social, and would have just not taught at all this year if we hadn't decided on this solution.

 

Many of the classes are set up this way at our church (as well as full time teachers), but I honestly can't see doing it as a different teacher each and every week.

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We joined a church a few years ago that we like quite a bit. The people are very nice and easy to get along with and we like the pastor's sermons quite a bit. I got really frustrated recently because they are changing the format of the Sunday School. Instead of having one teacher for each classroom for the whole year, they are several different teachers rotating throughout the school year. So one teacher would be there in September, and then another in October, and so on. Some of the people on the list of teachers I do not even know and others are people who infrequently come to church. I know the intent of this system was to get more parents involved, but I am really worked up because it is so very inconsistent (my kids do much better in a consistent environment), AND, I feel like some of these people were signed up as teachers somewhat unwillingly and are doing it because they feel obliged, not because they love children and want to teach them. My dh thinks I'm overreacting, but I am really upset about this and I feel like it's not a good set-up. I don't want to be known as a complainer, but should I bring this concern up to the church? Thanks for any advice!

 

:grouphug: I understand how you feel. Sunday School is very important to me. We've been here a little over a year - and we just recently started visiting another church because of the Sunday School opportunities. I love the kids having the same teachers, I love the kids having a solid, sound curriculum, I love that they can have a relationship with other adults teaching them besides me!

 

It's probably too late for you to address the church now that the decision has been made. You'll just have to see how it plays out and consider whether your family should stay or find another worship community. It will depend on how important the Sunday School is compared to the other aspects of your church.

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We have taken our kids to the service with us for a host of reasons, however, recently have decided to have them go to their classes. They don't even have the same teacher each week, much less the same teacher for a month. I think we'll change churches altogether, but it's hard to find volunteers for the children's programs. Ask anyone who coordinates volunteers!:glare:

 

Melody

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I don't want to be known as a complainer, but should I bring this concern up to the church? Thanks for any advice!

 

Only if you are willing and able to step-up and be one of the teachers, probably (if the teachers are volunteers, as they are in our church.)

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I have run/directed many a kids church program.

 

I would focus my efforts far more on making sure that good safety protocol is being followed. Number one in my book is making sure there are ALWAYS two adults supervising kids--NEVER an adult alone. After that, safety training and background checks are also key.

 

It is very, very difficult to get and keep volunteers. The organization of monthly versus yearly is more of a style and logistics issue than a moral issue, so I personally would not complain.

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You are right to be concerned!

 

Teaching SS should be viewed as a very high calling and a serious commitment. Very relationship-oriented and not essentially a task.

Imo, all SS teachers should be required to make a year long commitment.

In difficult circumstances a school year/summer schedule is okay. But year long is FAR the best and church leadership should hold the bar high.

SS is not daycare and ought not to be treated as such!

 

All SS teachers should be church members who attend worship consistently and have completed an interview/application that includes a background check. A shadow Sunday is good too so that they can see what a typical week is like, if they are new to teaching kids.

All teachers should teach in pairs (or groups if the class is large), with a ready to go list of approved subs so that occasional trips, illness etc. do not create chaos. Safety is not negotiable! If there are problems with this part, address it quickly. Realize that there may need to be a makeshift solution before a more permanent one can be created and be willing to work to fix the immediate problem.

 

 

If the staff and leadership don't get it, take your concerns to them (and to other parents in a way that is respectful of church leadership) in writing and then in person and try to persuade them.

 

On the "teachers need fellowship and teaching too" excuse, I understand that some will really miss adult SS, but there are seasons to ministry and huge rewards for those who really invest themselves in sharing the gospel with children. Reaping and sowing. I have never had a teacher come back to me and not say that he learned so much more than he ever did in adult SS! Kids' SS is where the rubber meets the road, just like everyday parenting! If teachers work in groups of three or more they have the opportunity to build friendships in a much more interactive and challenging way than merely visiting and casual conversation in adult SS. Lots of sanctification opportunities in children's SS, if you are willing!

 

Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine?!:glare:;)

 

P.S. I have worked on staff at three churches in children's and youth ministry for over 25 years.

Edited by ScoutTN
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We are pressured into volunteering at our church too. We have a set of 5 teachers who rotate weekly (i.e., 5 so that when there is a 5th Sunday of the month there are enough).

 

Everyone who interacts with the kids though has had the background check and has a kid in the class.

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My church can't seem to get a children's program together, at least not for the last four or five years. Each fall I've taken dd (she will be 8 this year) and tried to sign her up starting at age five, and I've always been told that they wouldn't have a class for her age group that year for various reasons and she would have to go into the daycare with the babies or stay with the adults. There seems to be one group of kids that are about 11-13 now that they do have a class for, and a teen group, but nothing for the younger kids. I've actually church-shopped a bit because of this.

I guess I would be glad that they at least HAD a class for your kids.

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Personally, I think its unfair to expect one person to teach every Sunday. They deserve to partake in fellowship too, not just be with kids every week.

 

Become part of the solution if you don't like it. Complaining only cause ill-feelings and division.

 

:iagree: with both of these. Our church had a very haphazard sign-up, and the inconsistency did annoy me, but I didn't really want to teach the little kids, so I shut up.

 

But I was so annoyed by the first year of my the middle school program, I volunteered all year this year (the second my kids were in it). And I'm doing it again next year. The middle school RE doesn't meet the first Sunday of the month, so I still get "fed".

 

The RE director we had the last two years put in a concerted effort on this, and it has gotten better, now most grades have people signed up for at least a few months at a time. It is better that way, but it really isn't fair to ask people to miss church services all year, year in year out. Are they really a regularly attending member if they never get to sit in services?

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It is sooo easy to get stuck in a rut with children's ss class. Next thing you know, your getting a piece of paper made into a card with stickers on it or a palcemat every week :lol:. This doesn't seem to happen anymore. I can understand being leery of it, but give it a chance :)

 

When I was a SS teacher, it was a 12-month committment. Well, they encouraged that but they certainly didn't get mad if someone had to bow out. We did those types of crafts you mention every Sunday. It was part of our curriculum.

 

ETA: Oh, we did have 2 morning services so teachers still got to go to worship service. However, we did have to choose between adult SS and Worship. I chose Adult SS and went to worship Sunday night. I *loved* our Sunday night worship services. I miss that.

Edited by Night Elf
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You are right to be concerned!

 

Teaching SS should be viewed as a very high calling and a serious commitment. Very relationship-oriented and not essentially a task.

Imo, all SS teachers should be required to make a year long commitment.

In difficult circumstances a school year/summer schedule is okay. But year long is FAR the best and church leadership should hold the bar high.

SS is not daycare and ought not to be treated as such!

 

All SS teachers should be church members who attend worship consistently and have completed an interview/application that includes a background check. A shadow Sunday is good too so that they can see what a typical week is like, if they are new to teaching kids.

All teachers should teach in pairs (or groups if the class is large), with a ready to go list of approved subs so that occasional trips, illness etc. do not create chaos. Safety is not negotiable! If there are problems with this part, address it quickly. Realize that there may need to be a makeshift solution before a more permanent one can be created and be willing to work to fix the immediate problem.

 

 

If the staff and leadership don't get it, take your concerns to them (and to other parents in a way that is respectful of church leadership) in writing and then in person and try to persuade them.

 

On the "teachers need fellowship and teaching too" excuse, I understand that some will really miss adult SS, but there are seasons to ministry and huge rewards for those who really invest themselves in sharing the gospel with children. Reaping and sowing. I have never had a teacher come back to me and not say that he learned so much more than he ever did in adult SS! Kids' SS is where the rubber meets the road, just like everyday parenting! If teachers work in groups of three or more they have the opportunity to build friendships in a much more interactive and challenging way than merely visiting and casual conversation in adult SS. Lots of sanctification opportunities in children's SS, if you are willing!

 

Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine?!:glare:;)

 

P.S. I have worked on staff at three churches in children's and youth ministry for over 25 years.

 

Woo hoo! If I ever move to Tennessee, I'm going to your church first!

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Unless you are going to volunteer to "do it right" complaining isn't going to get you anywhere.

 

:iagree: Since these people are volunteering their time, I think it's hard to complain unless you're volunteering to cover the whole year. I am someone who volunteers to teach Sunday School in some capacity every year and a few years ago I was not happy because not very many parents were involved. It's nicer for everyone to spread the burden IMHO. If you have people willing to commit a whole year, great. Our RE program requires families to donate a minimum to 10 hours a year to the program (and that can be in non-teaching capacities too). I *LOVE* it like this. We were in danger of dropping out before that. Obligation lengths depend, and how you're church is doing it isn't the best way depending on kid's ages. Our church tends to have 4-6 people the youngest kids work with on a rotating basis. Older kids have a constant person (or 2 that alternate) for a few months and then a rotating 2nd teacher. It's a nice compromise to consistency and spreading the burden. I'd wait and see how it shook out.

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My family is one of only two families that have small children who consistently attend, so there is no kids program during the service. It's one of the reasons I attend the church. For various reasons, I'd rather have my kids stay in the service with me.

 

That being said, when I was young the ss teachers rotated monthly, but there were only three teachers so they were all well known and had kids in the class. There was only one adult to the class, and I wouldn't dream of repeating that set-up with my own kids. The risk is too great.

 

If I were one to utilize ss for my kids and presented with the OP's scenario, I would volunteer to help and suggest the Team A and Team B approach mentioned earlier. If that were not suitable, I would either keep my kids with me or find another church. I would not put my kids into a situation I felt uneasy with.

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Someone has to volunteer.

 

Our church has one service per week. Service only no Sunday School hour before or after.

 

We are a young church(2 yrs old) and have around 150 including children attending each week with 50-60 of those children under 12.

 

If a teacher volunteers to teach every week they will NOT be attending church.

 

I volunteer 2 Sundays per month (the other teachers only volunteer once per month) and I do not feel like I'm a member. The Children's Ministry is held in a daycare center across the parking lot (great facility and set up) so if I'm over there I don't see anyone who does not have children in my class!

--

DH and I are taking over the organization of our Children's Ministry program. Getting teachers to sign up even once per month is like pulling teeth!

One of the first changes we plan on making is family worship. Children K-5th grade will have the OPTION of attending children's church first and then join their parents for worship/communion at the end of the sermon (worship usually lasts 30-45 minutes). This way the children hear an age-appropriate lesson, but still get to join their family for worship (contemporary with an AWESOME worship leader). This will also make it easier for the teachers to feel a part of the church! We are also changing the curriculum to something more interesting and this should also spur on more parental involvement (if the kids are excited it is easier for a parent to help out).

 

I grew up in a church with a separate Sunday School hour for all ages. Teachers had either a full year or a school year/summer commitment. The consistency was nice--but many teachers felt burdened at being there every week. It does take a special calling.

 

When my older girls were younger I was TIRED after being with them all week long (homeschooling) and I did NOT want to be around kids on Sunday too (in a leadership role)-- but DH and I wanted the best program possible for our girls so we put our time where our mouth was and signed up. It was a blessing to us (after we learned what a commitment really was) and we looked forward to it each week!

 

Perhaps one day our current church will have the facilities to offer more options.. but right now this is where we are at and instead of being frustrated we signed up!

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