Research has shown that participation in traditional forms of Sunday school has dropped dramatically in the last 20 years throughout the United States. There are myriad reasons for this, but Christ Lutheran has not escaped this trend. While we have lots of children and a healthy congregation, the traditional model of Sunday school just doesn’t seem to be working for us anymore. So we are trying something new…an experiment called GIFT Time.
Beginning on Sunday, September 8, GIFT Time will be replacing traditional Sunday school each Sunday morning. G.I.F.T. stands for Generation in Faith Together and it will take a total congregation effort. Each Sunday, starting at 10:15am, GIFT Time will begin in the Fellowship Hall with whoever is present. The people you are sitting with becomes your small group for the morning. It is intended to be intergenerational where everyone becomes teachers and learners together. We are asking that everyone present commit to 20+ minutes of faith formation together. Some mornings your GIFT Time will take longer than 20 minutes, but it will rarely take less. GIFT Time is based on the FAITH 5 practices created by Dr. Rich Melheim. (FAITH 5 stands for Faith Acts in the Home – a 5 step process to easy, meaningful family devotions.) Each small group will work together to complete the following 5 things during GIFT Time:
SHARE – Each person briefly shares a high, low, or something big going on in their life.
READ – Each group will read the scripture passage together (it will be the same passage used in the worship that particular Sunday).
TALK – This has two parts:
- People share their reaction, thoughts, questions from the story, answering a few open-ended questions in a discussionformat.
- Faith Challenge/Task – Each small group will receive a big gift box that contains instructions for an activity related to the Bible passage (i.e. act it out using the props in the box, draw an image from the story, using magnetic poetry create a poem based on the story, make a Lego sculpture of the story, etc.). The small group is to complete the Faith Challenge/Task together.
PRAY – The group will pray together, preferably about their highs & lows that were shared.
BLESS – Each person will receive a handout (to continue the FAITH 5 at home) and close by blessing each other
using words that are provided. Some things to note:
- We are trying GIFT Time as a holy experiment throughout Sept. If it flops, we will regroup and try something else.
- There will continue to be at least one adult Sunday school class, but GIFT Time is replacing all other Sunday schoolclasses. It really is for all ages to interact with each other.
- Once the groups are established each Sunday, the small groups may go find some other quieter places to meet and complete their tasks.
- Families can sit together, but they don’t have to.
- The small groups are intended to be different each week, and how much time each small group will meet together will likely vary from Sunday to Sunday. It will always take at least 20 minutes and finish by the time late service begins. The group dynamics will influence how long the group meets.
- GIFT FREE ZONES – Each week there will be at least 2 tables designated at GIFT-Free Zones. If you do not want to participate in GIFT Time, you are asked to sit at one of these tables. You will be able to enjoy your coffee and fellowship in peace, and no one will mess with you. But everyone seated at a GIFT Time table will be encouraged to participate and be part of the group.