Sunday School Gets Social

earth in handsTrain up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.
~Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

My husband and I have been blessed by God with two daughters. One of our goals as parents was to make sure that our girls were raised in a church that spoke and taught from the Bible. God has answered our prayers for that. Sunday school has always been an important part in that upbringing. Our girls aren’t babies anymore, but I still want to see them engaged in learning to study and follow the scriptures. I hold firmly to the promise made in Proverbs 22:6.

By trade I am a trainer. In that capacity, I am always learning new ways to deliver content to learners. It is a challenge to provide materials that engage and impact. I rely on visuals and simple, straight-forward messages. My daughter’s Flip camcorder has become one of my best tools. Social media has received a lot of hype lately in corporate circles, primarily for marketing, but I have witnessed how Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have changed the way I learn and teach. I’m developing a course for employees to learn how to use social media tools and theories to create their own personal learning networks. It’s not as easy as it sounds because the freedoms that exist in our personal lives are not so readily available behind the corporate firewalls.

Using social media to discuss my personal faith has become a daily occurrence for me thanks to @StickyJesus. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and now Google+ have blessed me so many times, I have lost track of how God has used these tools to lift me up and direct my path.

All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness.
~ 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

This summer when our church was nominating officers for the year, God placed a real burden on my heart to teach the young adult Sunday school class. Last year, I ran away from this class because I felt unequipped to speak to them. I have always loved teaching Bible studies, but this was different. Now I know a little more about their language, using Facebook and texting, but I could show them how to change the way they learn and share scripture. We are still using the standard Sunday school lessons used in the church so that at the end of the day families can still discuss what they learned, but I have included social media resources to supplement their learning.

This is outside the box for our traditional Free Methodist denomination. I have been at this for a little over a month now and I wanted to share this vision of Sunday school. I gathered email addresses for all of the young adults in the church and invited students to add names to the list. We started out with 14 and it has grown to 27 in four weeks. At the beginning of the week, I send a group email, providing the scripture to be studied with a hyperlink. I add a question for discussion purposes. I do some searching on YouTube, Twitter and my blog resources to find relevant links and add them as well. I remind them to pray for one another and invite friends. If I find anything that really pops up during my studies during the week, I shoot out a quick email link to share with them.

This past week, I created two new accounts, one on Facebook and one on Twitter. House Ignition is the name that we are using. All of the class members are administrators for the Facebook page and they have the account information for the accounts so they can manage as they see fit. I developed a proposal last week, challenging them to build and share their class pages by posting content and inviting friends. They all agreed that their friends probably wouldn’t visit our sites initially, so they needed to live their faith on their own pages! In addition to their pledge to develop the social media sites, they have also decided to take on a project within the church so that they can minister to the congregation, especially the youth group and young children. As a class, they are going to be the driving force behind the Operation Christmas Child program in our church. I am so excited to see them take ownership of these projects!

Now, I have to ask you for a favor. This is all new. We are stepping out in faith that God will use this class to do great things in us, our church and community. Pray for us. We have only had a few weeks, but we are confident that this is where God is leading us. Last week I listened to speakers at Catalyst online. Francis Chan said two things that I will share with my group on Sunday. First, we need to spend time with God. That means reading scripture and praying, being present. Second, we need to be willing to work hard. We are doing this. Our goal is 40 young adults. Currently we have ten who are dedicated to pushing this to their families and friends. Pray for them not to get discouraged if there are not immediate results. Jesus started out with twelve, and the world has never been the same! I promise to provide updates as we journey this path through the coming year.

A wife, mother and geek looking to share Jesus with my corner of the world! On Twitter as @wls1961, Facebook administrator for WhitehouseFMC and web administrator for whitehouse-fmc.org.

8 Responses to “Sunday School Gets Social”

  1. Very cool idea, Wanda! I'm excited about the number of people interested and hope this is one of many ways your youth stay connected to scripture & each other! Way to plow the ground, sister! We'll be praying for your group and hope to hear an update! Exciting!

    • I believe this is going to prove to be a mighty tool for Sunday school growth and developing are millenials. I watched part of Catalyst 11 and one of the leaders said we have to pour ourselves into others, so that they in turn will become leaders who will also be able to pour into their communities. Some pretty encouraging stuff to take place in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

  2. Fannnnntastic Wanda!!!

    Prayers up!!!

  3. PaulSteinbrueck Oct 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Wanda, pretty cool what you're trying to do with your Sunday school class. Have you shared this post with the people participating in the class? I hope you do. I'd love to hear some feedback from them as to how they think the social media stuff has impacted their experience.

    • I warned them yesterday! I will be sending out my weekly email this evening and adding this post. I think they are ready to take on some digital evangelism of their own! I will keep you posted.

  4. Cheryl Couch Thomas Oct 19, 2011 at 11:03 am

    This is a great conversation. I've been wanting to launch an adult Bible study using social media. Currently, I am using Google Groups for my 6th grade Sunday School class. The parents are more interested than the kids… maybe that works too!

    • Cheryl, it's funny how that works. I have a list of 27 young adults, 8 of whom are active, but I have stakeholder parents/teachers who I invite to look at our materials, and they seem to be more excited than the students. It's a work in progress. Last evening we did a random video shoot to capture sound bites and got the youth thinking about developing their own videos. I'm very excited about where it is going. It's just a more gradual move than I anticipated.

  5. For youth, the mere threat of having a parent in the class (spoken privately, and not in a threatening manner) is usually sufficient motivation for the student to shape up. You want to be careful not to drive youth away by humiliating them, of course; but if she's being disruptive, you have to do what needs to be done.