Each year as the fifth graders enter their spring semester, we sense restlessness in Sunday school. It’s a restlessness of wanting independence and yet still needing supervision and guidance. It’s a feeling that something big and exciting is headed their way, with a bit of anxiety about change. The fifth graders know about (and have already started looking forward to) Confirmation. While in fifth grade, many of them even begin discussions about who their Faith Partner may be (even though they are still months away from needing to make that decision). The Children’s Discipleship Team made a decision last spring that beginning this year, the fifth graders would begin serving in leadership roles during Sunday school for the spring semester. I am thrilled and touched by how meaningful this has been for the fifth graders, their parents, as well as the younger children who are impacted by their leadership.
The fifth graders were tasked with three roles during Lent this year; speak to adult Sunday school classes about the Children’s Lenten Offering, teach the younger children a Sunday school lesson using Resurrection Eggs and create a script and tell the Easter story at the Community Easter Egg Hunt. The fifth graders handled these three roles beautifully. I was so impressed as I watched them step up into these roles. The conversations I overheard were proof that the fifth graders were ready and eager to stretch out and serve in this way.
I loved hearing the thoughtful conversation amongst the fifth graders as they debated if it was better to use the word “tomb” or “cave” in the Easter Story because some were concerned that younger children might not know the word “tomb”. I then heard discussion about whether they should say that “Jesus died on the cross” or “Jesus was killed on a cross”. The children were worried about what the word “killed” would sound like to a four year old at the Community Egg Hunt. In the end, they decided that even though the word “killed” was a hard word to hear, it was the truth about what happened. They decided to use that word and they decided to put much more emphasis on sharing the message of the resurrection of Jesus and the good news that He is always with us and always loves us. I loved witnessing the careful discernment process these fifth graders went through to craft the perfect script using the most appropriate words for young children. They wrestled with these decisions as they explored what the story of the resurrection of Jesus meant to them. It was such a powerful experience to watch them stretch and grow.
These thoughtful, amazing fifth graders were given an opportunity and through that opportunity, they proved that they are leaders! They took their roles very seriously. I was nearly brought to tears when one of our very shy fifth graders walked up to the microphone at the end of one of their Children’s Lenten Offering presentations and said “Thank you for your time and your contributions”. She came up to me immediately afterward and I praised her for her courage and she said “Yea, that was HUGE. That stretched me WAY out of my comfort zone and I’m surprised (and glad) that I did it!” Another mom mentioned the new found confidence this leadership experience has exposed in her child.
I LOVE that the children are deepening their connection with God as they are also discovering new talents and abilities in themselves. The fifth graders will be going “on tour” to teach adult Sunday school classes from April 8 – May 20th. I can’t wait to hear about their adventures as they stretch out of their Sunday school room “comfort zone” once again to connect with people in our congregation.
These fifth graders have stretched out of their comfort zone to share the good news of Jesus with others. I have to ask myself, how have I stretched out of my comfort zone lately to do the same? How about you?