A brief introduction by Neil MacQueen. More to come. You're welcome to reply with your insights and ideas.
What is the "Mission" Workshop?
The "Mission" Workshop was originally envisioned as one of the workshops in a four or five week rotation that specifically focused on "doing service projects" and/or connecting the kids and their lesson to something the church was already doing in its mission program, or could be done in the community beyond the church.
The point of having "workshops" is to make sure that our teaching is utilizing MANY different techniques to teach each story, and not just settling for one or two, ...or just what a teacher is comfortable with.
Thus, the point of having a "Mission" workshop or incorporate mission-like activities in another workshop, is to make sure that within each rotation, life application isn't just talked about or a "do later" subject. We want to make sure kids have an opportunity to "practice" in response to the story's teaching.
The "Mission" Workshop has been re-imagined more broadly to include the teaching and practicing of acts of evangelism, discipleship, and spiritual practice, in addition to service projects, both within and outside the congregation.
Either way, the key is that the chosen action or practice should come from the rotation's Bible story itself, and not be a tangential activity with a marginal connection to the assigned story.
For example, you wouldn't package hygiene products for the homeless in a Mission Workshop if the story was about the forgiveness of sins.
Like all activities in every workshop, the Rotation Model emphasizes hitting the lesson nail on the head so that the memory and meaning of the story are reinforced through the activity.
We don't abandon this precept just to incorporate "any good service project" in our Sunday School time, instead, we work harder to match the workshop's activity with the story's meaning so that they complement and reinforce each other.
Due to scheduling constraints, many Rotation churches incorporate "concrete mission activities" (service projects) within other workshops where they might best fit, rather than creating a standalone "Mission" Workshop for the rotation.
For example, a Good Samaritan rotation might put the packaging of hygiene and first-aid products for disadvantaged children in its Art Workshop -- and include some expressive art as part of the package. Or they might practice how to respond in certain situations in the Drama Workshop, such as, the rudeness of others who look down on those whose clothes are ragged and come to school unwashed, and how we might respond and reach out. Or, the Video Workshop might include a video clip from your denomination about the problem of violence and how we can help.
Examples of Mission Workshop Activities Keyed to the Bible Story
The Good Samaritan rotation would have a "Mission Workshop" that might emphasize "taking care of those in need," especially the marginalized, through concrete classroom activities, such as, collecting and packaging hygiene products for the homeless, or assembling first-aid and hygiene kits for disadvantaged children.
Whereas, a Prodigal Son rotation "Mission Workshop" might want to emphasize reconciliation ministries and training student in ways to reconcile with others.
A "Mission" Workshop in the "Jesus Goes to the Cross" rotation might want to emphasize the spiritual practice of confession, for example.
Or a Rotation on the Feeding of the 5000 (a miracle revealing Jesus' identity) might want to emphasize the practice of "evangelism" -- how you can invite others to come seek and see Christ.
Or a Pentecost Story Rotation might emphasize acts of "hospitality" we can extend to each other and visitors who come to class and worship with us.
A "Mission" Workshop for the Lord's Prayer might want to emphasize a concrete activity that encourages the practice of prayer.
So is "Mission" the proper title for this workshop?
That's really up to you. However, the term "mission" can be an impediment to those creating or collecting lessons for your workshops, as its common usage evokes "helping others outside of the church." And yet, each congregation itself is a mission field. And not every story's "do this" evokes a service project, but may be instructing an individual to individual change WITHIN. It really depends on the story you are teaching.
Some examples of Mission Workshops by another name...
- The "What then shall we do?" Workshop (Luke 3:10, the question posed by the people to John the Baptist after hearing his word.)
- The "What Now?" Workshop
- The "Acts of the Apostles" Workshop
Doing "Mission" WITHIN other workshops and at other times.
It is a common Rotation practice to identify one particular lesson in each four to six-week rotation to be the one workshop where we will "go all out" to create an extra special outcome.
For example, if the passage is a great memory verse, we might emphasize learning it by rote in the Game Workshop. And if the passage has a specific "do this" outcome, we might design the Cooking Workshop to produce something shareable, or the Drama workshop to practice actions.
The point is to create a focused activity for special desired outcomes and put it in the schedule. (There's nothing like a date on the calendar to make something happen.)
This is not dissimilar from how many Rotation churches now incorporate MUSIC within their rotations. Rather than scheduling a specific "Music Workshop," they might put a singing activity within the Drama Workshop.
Some Rotation churches have scheduled their "DO THIS" mission connections into their Assembly Time --if they have one in the schedule. Others have given the responsibility of "service projects" to their Children's Fellowship Group. It all depends on what your schedule and resources allow.
The point is to make sure it is happening somewhere and often!