I don’t how many churches do it, but I would hazard a guess that we are one of the few that has Sunday School outside. Not only do we try to immerse our kids in the outdoors, our community has gathered in the downtown area for most of our existence. That means we may be one of the only inner-city churches that sends our kids outside to explore just that — the city.
It’s a far cry from the felt boards or Veggie Tales movies from my Sunday School experience of yesteryear. I can’t say I’m not jealous.
Of course, this kind of experience isn’t for everyone. I remember a conversation a number of years ago with someone who was testing the waters with our church community. He was lamenting about how he didn’t like the inner-city neighborhood mostly because of the transient population. He was booking the next ticket to the suburbs where his shed tools would be safe. His desire was perfectly fine, but the way we lead our lives in our church community is less fragmented.
There’s a certain visceral reminder when we meet in Kensington that our lives are segments of experiences separated by sterilized church on Sundays vs the rest of the week. Rather, our community understands that there is a collision between the broken and the renewed that takes place in all of life. That life lived to be restorers is one of our key identities.
We want our kids, and our entire community for that matter, to not only be aware, but also participate at the forefront of restoring our city. Being aware and connecting with the realities of these stories as part of our service gatherings is important to us.
In our most recent gathering our community was on the theme of ‘restoration‘. Fitting since it was around Easter. We sent the kids out with a mission to watch for anything that was ‘old and had been turned new’ or that were ‘broken and were restored’. They returned with all sorts of observations and memories about their Sunday exploration.
We don’t everything figured out, not by a long shot, and we only have one program for the bulk of our children. Nonetheless, we find their Sunday School experience unique and one that will (hopefully) prepare them to be observant participants in the unfolding Kingdom of God as they grow older. Plus, they get play along one of the most beautiful riverbanks in the world, so there’s that too.