A Family Sunday School Class
May 19, 2004
Can dads, moms, and offspring learn together in one classroom? Must families always be split the minute they enter the church, only to meet again two hours later in the parking lot?
The idea of intergenerational learning has tantalized many a Christian educator. Some have tried it; many have given up. Douglas Baltz is one man who has made it succeed in two different pastorates—First Baptist of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and Salem Baptist in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
What are his secrets?
• Don't try to run a family class indefinitely. One quarter is long enough; then let people get back to their regular classes. Make the family class a special feature.
• Limit the class to no more than 20 or 25. The youngest should be at least primary age.
• Since intergenerational curriculum is scarce, build the lessons around a section of Scripture that has both graphic stories for the kids and great truths for the adults to apply. Baltz has used Genesis and Exodus.
• Use lots of discovery techniques; don't try to talk the whole hour. Give families things to do together as units. "When I would pass out a quiz on the previous lesson," says Baltz, "I'd give a copy to each father. The mother and children would then cluster around him to help answer the questions. Home assignments were also given to the fathers to carry out during the week."
• Use an informal setting—chairs in a circle, coffee for the adults, enough space to spread out during project work.
"Some dads had never read the Bible to their families, so this class put them into a new experience," says Baltz, who has since become executive secretary of the Iowa Baptist Conference. "One parent told me, 'I've been amazed at how willing and interested my two teenage boys have been in preparing ...