Summer is a busy time for families as they shift from the school-year schedules to summer camps, programs, and vacations. How does church fit into families’ summer schedules? Many years ago, Calvary held summer worship services in the chapel and did not offer childcare. It was a time when pastors would go on study leave and vacations and folks would be out of town. It was a good time for families to sit together during worship. For almost ten years, we have had childcare open every Sunday throughout the year. We support families whenever they come to Calvary. Families have the choice to sit together during worship or walk their children to childcare and Sunday Studio.
We follow the narrative lectionary Bible passages, so Sunday Studio stories and accompanying activities are an age-appropriate version of what is discussed in worship. Our hope is that children and youth will talk about the topic with their parents during lunch or dinner that afternoon or during the week. Sunday Studio teachers essentially have 45 quality minutes with children, so our goal is to help children and youth feel safe, cared for, and engaged in a faith-related topic and activity.
At Sunday Studio, we provide a book to each family, so that they can supplement what we experience on Sundays. 100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation: A Guide for Parents and Youth Leaders by Rebecca Kirkpatrick is a parent-friendly comprehensive resource. Because most families have scheduled sports or activities on Sunday mornings, it is difficult to offer a consistent chronological look into the Bible. Many years ago, Sunday school teachers would start with the stories of Genesis and move through the Bible characters and stories until they reached New Testament stories in the spring. When we connect with the narrative lectionary, we can focus on topics that address social emotional responses, behaviors, and attitudes toward God and one another. It is heartening when I am reading a Bible story and a child shouts out, “I know that one! We read it at home. I have a Bible story book.” I love to know that the child reads with their family members.
As a parent of teens, I see how difficult it is to get them to church on a regular basis. They have so many communities and academic responsibilities to respond to during the week. Sunday is a true sabbath, meaning, they might just want to spend it sleeping in for half of the day. When they do come to church, they sometimes lead the worship liturgy, participate in service opportunities, check in with their peers, and talk to folks at coffee hour. They know that they belong to a loving community. They often pay kindness forward when listening to a friend at school, caring for a peer who is struggling, or strike up a conversation with a senior adult. These are the relational skills that the church community instilled in them over the many years. Respect, love, and persistence keeps them believing in their own faith-formation.
Photo by Alison Faison