Small Groups for Kids (aka breaking out of classroom catechesis)

Just listened to Rebuilt Podcast #25.*  And I have to say, it was one of the most value-added Rebuilt podcasts yet–and by that I mean, it went well beyond what’s in the book(s) and Rebuilt website about the goals, vision, and practical nuts and bolts behind ministering to children from ages 6 months to 5th grade, including kids with special/individualized needs.

It also gave some insight into the parish’s vision for families–a family attends at one time for children’s small groups/parent ministry service and a separate time for family worship (which includes a Children’s Liturgy of the Word). I think this answers some of the concerns about kids being encouraged not to attend Mass. Clearly this isn’t what Church of the Nativity is aiming for, and Children’s Liturgy of the Word does allow families to celebrate the Eucharist and worship together for a substantial (usually over 50%) of Mass.

I definitely felt the pain/challenge of the hosts and guest when they talked about first action steps. One of the challenges for any parish is, how to start a practice (like investing in kids!) that requires a lot of volunteers? Part of this comes back to a key message from Rebuilt and Tools for Rebuilding–the importance of the pulpit and having a clear message for the entire church community that service is part of discipleship. I know that in many parish settings making this a unified message is a real challenge, since Children’s ministry/religious education/parish school of religion has often, both culturally and organizationally, existed in a silo apart from the pastor/associate’s sermon messages, the parish council’s focus, etc.

Bottom line, if you’re a DRE (Director of Religious Education) or minister to kids in a parish, you should definitely give this episode a listen. And, I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tried anything similar!

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*Amusing note: I ended up listening to this episode while watching SportsCenter cover the NCAA basketball tournament from an elliptical at the gym, so clearly I was adopting the same pedagogical hermeneutic as the hosts 😉 or I like to multi-task. Either way. Win.

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2 thoughts on “Small Groups for Kids (aka breaking out of classroom catechesis)

  1. My catechetical world doesn’t overlap much with these younguns, but I also try to transcend the classroom model, and even my 6th graders go nuts to be in a Bible skit. And of course it helps me if the kids have already own the stories before they walk through my door.

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    • Very true. I think Church of the Nativity does some stuff on a large scale that also goes on many other places in smaller doses.

      For example, I once had a group of 1-6th graders (yep that was the “age” in my class) act out Thomas meeting the resurrected Christ during class on the 2nd Sunday of Easter. It was such a hit, we did it the next 4 weeks–haha. They just wanted to do it over and over again (and I didn’t have to follow any pre-set “curriculum” so I just ran with it until everyone who wanted to got a chance to “be” Thomas and dramatically fall/slide across the floor to “Jesus”‘s feet). Great memories 🙂

      I think Church of the Nativity provides some good, stirring examples and a scaleable model for some larger or very “structured” parishes that are a little too bound (in my opinion) to academic-oriented or overly structured catechetical curricula (or view getting a “better” curriculum as the fix).

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