Some publishers today have begun to offer Sunday School curriculum using an educational model called the rotation model. Vacation Bible School programs have been utilizing this model for several years, but recently churches have begun to use it in children’s Sunday School as well. Does the rotation model work as well in Sunday School as it does in VBS?
Vacation Bible School
In Vacation Bible School programs, the rotation model has been around for several years. With this model, students rotate to different stations in VBS every day. For example, each day a class would visit the Bible lesson station, the craft station, the missions station, the game station, and the snack station. This model is beneficial because different people can lead each station, so the department staff does not need to plan every part of VBS.
The rotation model is beneficial only if the Bible lesson comes first in the rotation. One VBS publisher includes the Bible lesson station, but it may come second, third, or even last in the rotation. Putting other stations, such as crafts or snacks, first in the rotation not only minimizes the Bible lesson but also does not allow children to connect the activity to Scripture.
Regular Baptist Press VBS utilizes a modified rotation model. According to the schedule suggested in the Director’s Guidebook, after the introductory opening session, each department begins by teaching the Bible lesson and then goes to crafts and other stations. This arrangement emphasizes the Bible lesson, which is the reason for having VBS, and allows students to connect every part of the program to the Bible lesson for the day.
In Sunday School, churches often use the rotation model like this:
- The church plans 12 Bible lessons a year—one for each month.
- On every Sunday of a given month, children hear the same Bible lesson and then spend the rest of the time that Sunday in one of four stations. So during the month, the children visit all four stations.
- The church chooses what stations to offer in a month. For example, the church might plan an art station, a drama station, a game station, and whatever other station seems to fit the lesson for that month.
Proponents of the rotation model say it allows children to spend more time studying a Bible passage and, therefore, children will better understand Bible truths and connect them more closely to their lives. However, the opposite can be true: The primary concern with this model is its potential lack of Bible coverage. In the arrangement described above, students study only 12 Bible lessons a year. Children need more Bible training than 12 lessons a year. In a day of increasing Biblical illiteracy, we need to be sure children (and youth and adults) receive a thorough and systematic Bible education.
We can, however, learn some things from the rotation model. Let’s involve children in art projects and drama presentations, but let’s incorporate these kinds of activities into our regular weekly lessons instead of making the art project the majority of the lesson. This approach accomplishes the same purpose as the rotation model yet gives children a more thorough Bible coverage.
As educational models and approaches continue to emerge, let’s utilize the best from each one but always make Bible education the priority.