General CBF

Children’s Rotation Model Sunday School

I was recently asked by a partner congregation about resources related to the rotational Sunday School model for children. It had been a while since I researched this subject; so, I called on one of the most significant voices in moderate Baptist children’s ministry for her thoughts. Retired from the Baptist State Convention of NC and creator of the Children’s Ministry Certification offered through CBF Identity Partner Campbell University Divinity School, I found Janice Haywood’s response helpful and good material for further discussion. As a way of helping resource congregations, I’d like to know your thoughts.  I’m sharing Janice’s response (with her permission) here and invite your reflections, response, and any personal story/experience you might have re: the rotational Sunday School model for children. 

Before answering the question, I need to explore a larger question.  Is this teaching format best for the faith formation of children?  I agree with Ivy Beckwith, in her new book, Formational Children’s Ministry, in which she calls the rotation model just another form of the traditional schooling model.   However, it is even weaker than the classroom models because it does not encourage building of relationships—only transmission of information by a parade of adults that want to teach information but not invest significant time in relationships with the children.  I see this shift occurring in a wide variety of churches because adults are looking out for their “crunched time” needs but are forgetting that it may be at the expense of good, solid faith formation for the children which is transmitted as much through informal and non-formal methods as the formal ones.  I know time is valuable, but so are relationships with children, especially when it is the core of faith formation.

The rotation model has many forms and publishers, and to be honest, I have not researched them carefully because I don’t encourage them.  I have scanned a few and have not been impressed by any of them.  Almost all of the publishers have some sort of a rotation series because they can sell them.  I know Rotation Workshop is on line but it is a collection of teaching units others have put together—some of it fairly good and some of it is extremely weak—sometimes educationally and sometimes theologically.   I always question if it is my age and training when I look at new approaches, but on this one, I think it is just understanding how faith is communicated, and I’m fearful of another generation missing the relationship connection with people of faith that care about them and will spend time with them—even parents, much less teachers.

One thought on “Children’s Rotation Model Sunday School

  1. Dr. Haywood mistakenly writes, “it (the Rotation Model) does not encourage building of relationships—only transmission of information by a parade of adults that want to teach information but not invest significant time in relationships with the children. ” But this is her observation without experience. In real church experience, the children are more engaged, willing, and excited to learn in Rotation vs traditional, and that means that the relationship between students and teachers is on a better footing. Most rotation teachers are parents with whom the kids are familiar, and will be taught by them for years. By rotating teachers, students are exposed to a greater number of caring individuals, rather than one year’s awful teacher. And many Rotation Sunday Schools recruit shepherds who travel with the kids through each workshop tending to pastoral needs.

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