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Reply to "Gloria Dei Lutheran Church's Outreach and Online Sunday School During the Pandemic (updated)"

Here’s a recap from this last Sunday's Zoom Sunday School: what was planned, what we did, and what we are planning for next week. It went great and was so fun to see everyone that could make it!

Feel free to share and blessings on your week!



Pre Zoom Sunday School Checklist:

  • Email out an invitation link to families and include any supplies you would like them to have on hand and what to expect in the Zoom.
  • Keep supplies simple and assume that not everyone will have supplies.
  • Ask someone to co-host with you. Make sure this feature is selected from the settings menu and that your co-host is comfortable in this role using Zoom.
  • Make sure the co-host has your lesson outline and if there are any specifics you’d like the host to help with or monitor such as: Admit people, watch the chat to help with troubleshooting or answer questions or note prayer requests, mute people, watch and respond to inappropriate behavior (see information on Zoom Bombers), I also asked our co-host to save a copy the chat (more on that below).
  • Zoom offers a great “help” search and video tutorials. Practice ahead of time.
  • Learn and practice how to use a Break Out Room if you plan to use this feature.
  • 40 minute Zoom sessions are free. Watch your time. You will be cut off at 40 minutes. Be ready to modify or bail on a section of your plan if needed and prioritize what you want to accomplish.
  • Offer a Zoom Meet & Greet a day or so before Sunday school for people to learn and practice how Zoom works and say hello. They can pop in for a few minutes or the whole time.

Tips that worked really well: (I believe they were inspiration from the Holy Spirit.)

  • Have everyone type a greeting in the chat to everyone and include all of the names of the people they are with - both children and adults. This becomes your attendance list and allows you to know who to follow up with post Zoom for anything that you didn’t get to or want to follow up on. Your Zoom needs to be well paced, and if you have a lot of people on you won’t get to see everyone. Ask your co-host to save the chat and email it to you afterwards so you have the record.
  • Encourage people to type prayer requests, and any questions they have in the chat as well. Your co-host will monitor this so you can focus on the lesson and interacting with children and families.
  • Toward the start of the lesson invite children to start working on an activity that pertains to the lesson and/or the guided practice that will come later. This gives them a focus and helps them to engage from home. We used paper and drawing and coloring in a heart. This worked really really well. We had three year-olds through fifth graders on our Zoom, so this activity also helped give younger children something to do while more in-depth teaching points were shared with older students.
  • If you will be reading a Bible story from a book, type out the text or copy and print it to have in front of you so you can hold the book straight at the camera and children can clearly see the pictures while you are reading. I included the page numbers on my print out so I would know when to turn the page.
  • Type out what you want to say on your lesson plan along with a guesstimate of the time frame and print it out. Include the words “Time Check” in several places as a reminder that this is a section of your plan that you can modify or bail on if you're over time at that point. You might not say all of your wording but having it thought out ahead of time will help you gauge how much time you need for each section and if you get lost you can refer to your notes.

Below is the lesson plan and talking points we used at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Olympia, WA, for March 22, 2020. Comments are in green. Modifications we made to the plan during the Zoom are in red.

Zoom Sunday School Plan for Sunday, March 22, 2020

Times are approximate and are dependent on the # of participants.

Gather | Check In | Hello | Intros? (See Opening Q) (We did not do introductions here, but did do them in the opening question section. This was due to time and not knowing how long everything would take.)
Susan - Co Host - Thanks
As you are listening: Paper/Draw and color in a heart (This was such a good idea!)
Zoom Etiquette
Mute (At times, some people forgot to mute themselves. The co-host took care of muting them so the presenter could stay focused on the lesson.)
Chat - Prayers, Greetings, Qs - Saved/Respond (We let people know the chat would be saved and if any questions in the chat were not answered on the Zoom we would follow up with them.)
Troubleshooting - Saint Susan (Susan was our awesome co-host.)
Type Names into Chat - “Hello from: ___ “ (This was such a good idea!)
Susan - please track prayer requests as they come in for Closing Prayer (If petitions were not voiced during prayer time, they could be read from the chat.)
Raise Hand
40 minutes - This lesson will need to move along!
Permissions - Model for other churches (Make sure to get permission if you will be taking any screen shots. We got verbal permission and I asked our co-host to take some screen shots for us so I could just focus on leading the lesson.)

The Lord Be With You <3 Prayer

Circle of the Church Year - Fourth Sunday in Lent (We used the Circle of the Church Year from Godly Play.)

Opening Question TIME CHECK -
What is something you have seen this week that has made you smile, feel good, or has filled you with hope?
Depending on how many participants, break into groups so people can talk.
Introduce each other as you share.
Encourage people to also type their response in the Chat so all can see. (Responses were not typed in the chat because I forgot to ask participants to do this because I was distracted. I had practiced break out sessions ahead of time, but realized in real time that I didn’t know how to end them early and was worried about time. People LOVED the break out though! It was really important to have this time of introduction and checking in with each other. Not all of the families knew each other. Another thing that happened, was that additional families were trying to join the Zoom while the break outs were going on. We had not anticipated this and neither the co-host nor I saw them right away. Once we saw them, we admitted them, but they had to wait to see everyone until the breakout group time ended and everyone came back together. That felt a little awkward and is on my tech learning list for this week.)

Regroup | Lesson | God Chose David & David is Anointed King | 1 Samuel 16:1-13
Place the Story
OT • Books of History • Follows Judges • 2 Scrolls
Optional • Show various artwork stories to set the stage
Connect Samuel • Show Picture p. 41
Called as a boy, Priest, God spoke to the people through Samuel, anointed King Saul and King David - Israel’s first two kings.

Read the Story p. 41-43 (I used the Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu ISBN 9780310719120)

Things to think about:

  • Maybe there has been a time when you have felt like you were overlooked, not seen, not important, or not noticed? (Offer examples and use hand motions or nod or use reactions)
  • David was a young child. He was the eighth son — so low that his family didn’t even consider bringing him along.
  • He came straight from the field so he would have been dirty and sweaty, and stinky.
  • Anybody like to play sports? (Reactions/Type sport in) Have you gotten sweaty and stinky?
  • Why do you think God picked David? What do you think God saw in David that God would pick David to be king? Talk as a family and type response in chat. (We sipped this question/bullet altogether for two reasons: 1) The kids were being really shy. (More on this in the end notes), and 2) time was flying by.)


10:20 Anointing/Welcome Water 

  • God chose David because God looked inside David and saw David had a good heart. David was anointed and filled with the Spirit of God.
  • God sees you and looks inside you and knows you have a good heart.
  • At your baptism, you are anointed with oil and God claims you as God’s own loved child, and fills you with the Holy Spirit, and says I’ve got great plans for you!
  • If you have water handy, dip your finger in and make the sign of the cross on your forehead or on your hand.
  • While anointing: In one verse from Psalm 23, David writes “You anoint my head with oil.” Perhaps remembering the promise that God had plans for him. David became Israel’s greatest king. (Not everyone had the supplies. As I poured water on my end, I also reached my finger toward the camera to mark everyone with a cross.)


10:25 Hearts - TIME CHECK -

  • Draw a heart
  • Color it in, draw eyes, write names of or draw people you see.
  • Oil - Optional - transparent/see through - like God sees us. Cut out, hang as a reminder to look inside other people not just on the outside and to act with a kind heart.
  • Look for signs of people using their kind hearts this week.
  • Share with family - Breakout groups if time. (No time for this breakout. In fact, we just talked through this activity and left it as a follow up for at home. It was great that we started it at the beginning of the Zoom. More information was sent out about it in email following the Zoom so parents could have the information in print if they wanted it. I had envisioned us having time to color in hearts, cut them out and hold them up to the camera for everyone to see but that did not happen.)


10:30 Closing Prayer - TIME CHECK

  • Gesture through a few items on prayer table (This is a prayer ritual we do each week. To save time, I had preset the prayer table up on my table at home so I could refer to it with the children. I emailed instructions to families on how to set a prayer table up at home and do a scavenger hunt to find the components if families would are interested. I did not spend a lot of time on it because I wanted to get to the Rock Prayers - an intentional way I’m trying to build community. See Follow up notes below for more information.)
  • Unmute all - We are going to use Rocks while we pray to each build the shape of a cross. This is something that can connect us and our prayers. Jesus is our rock, our foundation In whom we can trust. Through out this time God is working for good and even as we are all in our own homes we are connected and loved.
  • Add a rock for each prayer that is said so we are all building a cross shape together.
  • Lord in your Mercy. Hear our prayer.
  • Lord’s Prayer.


10:38. Announcements and Goodbye!
Next week: Bones!
Cool links and lesson extenders - sent in weekly email
GDKids FB/Website -, FB: Gloria Dei Kids

Post Zoom Reflections and Follow Up:

  • We received great positive feedback and responses from families and kids so we are considering this a huge success! I’m really looking forward to next Sunday!
  • Next week we will send out reminders to families. People shared with me they are loosing track of what day it is so had forgotten it was Sunday and missed Sunday School. #truth
  • Part way through the Zoom I realized the need to send a follow up email to families who were on the Zoom as there were things we were having to skip or speed through.
  • I felt like this was very much presentation style with too much talking and not as much interaction and not much movement. I’m working on ways to incorporate movement and more interaction next time — allowing more time for these things.
  • The kids were super shy and that surprised me until I realized that they are use to being with “their” people in their own class settings and here we are all together. I plan to structure in more community building ideas and it will be fun to see how kids across all ages groups get to know each other better and open up more. Specifically, I’m thinking of our prayer time. Kids usually have lots of prayer petitions to offer and it was pretty quiet this Sunday. Someone did offer up a prayer for everyone to have enough t.p. though. <3 It’s good to have some petitions thought out ahead of time if you are opening up petitions to the group.
  • Parents are right there or nearby listening in, which is great on so many levels! They can help their child(ren) if they need it, they are hearing the Bible lesson, and can help facilitate and encourage participation in break out groups.
  • Announcements at the end were a good idea and got the kids thinking toward next time and verbally referenced resources for parents who want them.


Post Zoom Follow Up Email:

I had gotten verbal permission to take some screen shots but also put it out there in the follow up email below.


It was so great to see you all! <3

Thanks for joining in on Sunday school this week.

If you have concerns about screen shots being shared, please let me know. I am blurring names and our chat for sure, and can blur faces as well. Thanks for letting me share our experience with others.

If you have ideas on how to improve, or something you thought worked well, I’m all ears and will incorporate that feedback into sharing best practices with other congregations.

I’m actually really excited about next week’s lesson and have already incorporated movement into it so we’re not just sitting for so long. <3 I’m also seeking ways to have more community building time and interaction, and maybe that will come as get more comfortable with this format.

Heart Project Follow Up:
Draw a heart shape.

Option 1: Color it in. If you use crayon, you could rub just a bit of oil over the paper to make it translucent as a reminder that God sees what’s in our hearts, not just what’s on the outside. After it dries, cut it out and hang it up to let the light shine through. Let it also be a reminder for us to look inside others, and not just on the outside. It’s also a reminder to act with a kind heart.

Option 2: (This can be in addition to Option 1.) Write names of people or draw people you see, you love etc. around or in your heart shape.

Option 3: (This can also be an add on.) Be on the look out for those who are not seen in our community and world. Write or draw about your thoughts. How could you let them know they are seen?

Option 4: (Another add on.) Look for signs of people using their kind hearts this week.

Share your work and thoughts with your family.

Rock Prayer Thoughts:
I’m trying to use this a community building tool. Thanks so much to those of you who sent me photos of the cross your child created out of rocks or modified to create out of something else like toy people! See photos below. So cool!! If you have a photo I’d love to see it!

Each time we gather, we will build a prayer cross in our own setting — together — combining our hearts and our prayers through Christ. Jesus is our rock -- our foundation in whom we can trust. Throughout this time God is working for good. (Watch for kind hearts in action to see God at work.) Even as we are all in our own homes we are connected and loved.

Materials needed: Rocks - or whatever you or your child come up with!

God sees you. I see you.

Peace be with you and blessings on your week!



Photos of “Rock Prayers.” Children are invited to each build a cross shape in their own homes as we pray together knowing we are united by Christ.


Screenshot taken during the anointing response time. 


Screenshot as we were getting set for storytime.





Images (4)
  • rockPrayer1
  • rockPrayer2
  • zoomAnointing
  • zoomStory
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