It’s almost a new year! Not the New Year celebrations that come with party hats and resolutions, but the kind that comes before Christmas as the church prepares for Christ’s birth. A new lectionary year. And with it comes questions from kids… often times centered around “what is the lectionary and what does it mean?”
How do you explain the lectionary to kids?
At a very basic level, kids can understand that during worship, they are hearing and learning Bible stories according to the lectionary year.
Explaining the lectionary to kids can be so much more than just reading the same Bible story they heard in church. Kids can start to identify how the lectionary and seasons of the church year are represented within the church. Take kids into the sanctuary to see the colors of the current season and explain how each season has a color. Kids can also have fun learning the names of the seasons of the church year.
As a Sunday school leader, you can explore the lectionary year with children in the same way we explore Bible stories – through age-appropriate approaches. Very young children don’t need to know all the details about the three-year Revised Common Lectionary cycle.
But, they can start by learning that they’re hearing the same Bible story in Sunday school as everyone is hearing in church that day while exploring simple themes in the story. Older kids can explore multiple or more complex themes of the scripture while starting to learn about the cycle of the texts.
What does using a lectionary-based Sunday school curriculum do for kids?
Lectionary Sunday school curricula approach the lectionary from different perspectives. Some, like Spark: Activate Faith’s lectionary model choose one lesson, primarily the Gospel, each week and the lessons are built around Biblical literacy. Kids hear or read an age-appropriate version of the story and each age level has an age-appropriate lesson focus statement that the lesson is centered around.
For example, during the season of Advent kids learn about Jesus’ Baptism. In this lesson, the lesson focus statement for kindergartners is “God loves me.” The lesson focus statement for fifth graders is “baptism is about new beginnings.” Like we do in church, kids learn and explore the same story every three years in the cycle, each time building on it from a new perspective.
Another approach to lectionary Sunday school focuses on learning the church year, like Whirl Lectionary does.
Each week while the Bible story matches up with one that is read in church, the lesson also explores the colors and imagery of the church season. In addition, kids watch a short animated video featuring the Whirl kids, who are not only exploring the theme of the Bible lesson, but also learning more about their church in the process. Kids can learn about the lectionary by watching kids their own age.
What can families do to continue learning about the lectionary year?
After hearing about the church seasons and Bible stories in both church and Sunday school, families can also continue to teach their kids about the lectionary year at home! Many lectionary Sunday school resources provide families with a take-home resource.
Whether it offers one activity or several, it gives parents the support they need to discuss the stories and themes and continue learning outside of church.
Interested in learning more about the value of lectionary? Read more here!