The Fabulous Reinvention of Sunday School by Aaron Reynolds

I can think of only one word to sum up what I thought of this book: Fabulous!

Honestly. Last week someone on my staff gave me this book. Although I have a creative streak, usually my administrative tendencies crowd out that part of my personality. Knowing that Willow Creek highly values and usually sets the standard on using the “arts” in ministry… I initially wasn’t interested. I figured this would be a book I would skim. No, really. Any book that is purposely filled with funny and weird sketches on almost every page is enough to make we want to sit in front of CSPAN all day. I think my deal was that I just don’t like using drama and arts in the context of children’s ministry because from my experience, it is usually crappy! So, I wasn’t really interested.

That very night I was up late doing some work. It was 1:00 AM (yes, I don’t have kids yet) and I wasn’t quite ready to turn in for the night, so I pulled out this book. Finally at 3:30 AM I put the book down because I knew I was going to be trashed the next day if I didn’t get at least 4 hours of sleep. One word… AMAZING! Totally not what I expected. Yes, the book is full of information about drama and the arts… but it’s so much more than that. Simply put, it’s completely about the most important part of what I do every weekend, the 20 to 25 minutes when I take God’s word and give it to the kids who attend my service. This book is about maximizing that time, ensuring that it is a moment that will stick with them for longer than 20 minutes after they leave. Never have I read a book like this. It’s theoretical, it’s practical and man is it funny. I caught myself laughing out loud time and time again. Aaron (the author) has definitely been there and done that as I identified with many of the moments us children’s ministers live on a regular basis.

Content covers everything from setting a stage, great prop ideas, lighting secrets, rehearsal plans, critique forms, sound ideas and so much more. As a speaker who constantly wants to get better, Arron gave me great new ideas of what to do with my hands, where to be when I’m making my big point, and what to do when those infamous 5th grade boys start a secret conversation of their own in the back. If that weren’t enough, Aaron filled the pages with examples that he’s used that put you right there in the middle of the application. He’s also included a huge appendix filled with great resources so that I can do what he wrote about.

I just finished reading this book. I plan to read it again next week. Yesterday I bought 15 more for my staff and some key leaders. If you work with elementary kids (preschool too… there’s a great section on preschool programming), you must have this book. Read it, soak it in and then put it into practice. I feel that this book will be one of the most influential books in the children’s ministry at my church.