From flannelgraph to grown-up community

Flannel Graph Flannel Graph

When I think back to my childhood Sunday school experiences, I remember Bible stories played out on a flannelgraph and beautifully painted wooden figures that represented biblical characters. (Was this common in most congregations?) 

Those wooden figures seemed extra special. There was something beautiful and fragile about them, and perhaps since children often aren’t trusted with such things, they stood out to me. 

The truth of my own Sunday school experience is that the other young people around me became my community. We grew up together and were shaped by the same dedicated congregational leaders. They stood up at my wedding with me and remain people I could call on in a moment of need. 

As adults, what started as a congregational small group has become like family. A common denominator of the group was that in one way or another we spoke Spanish in our homes. Often, to some degree, as individuals or families we carried multiple cultural identities. 

There is nothing quite like the refuge you can find in another person who understands you. In some ways, the differences within the group seem great, and yet Nata and I have experienced repeatedly their love, kindness and support whenever we needed it — and even sometimes when we didn’t know what we needed. 

In the years of COVID, this group has felt like true church to us. In the friendship and the community we have created, I see the fruit of the Spirit blooming constantly. 

My small group and Sunday school experiences remind me that our journeys of spiritual growth in community can look different at different times in our lives. I’m grateful for the support and guidance I’ve experienced from these and other formational groups. 

Today, the variety of formats and ways to participate is vast. I hope in this issue you can find inspiration for your current or future small group or Sunday school. 

One resource I’ll name here is from Saltproject.org. I’ve mentioned them before, and I’m always excited for the print resources they create. One is called Great and Small: Guide to the Most Okayest Summer Ever! 

This summer my family and I will have a lot of transitions. We are anticipating a new baby. With all the big events and emotions that come with this, I felt like this summer family activity and devotional packet might be a perfect fit. 

Danielle Klotz

Danielle Klotz is executive director of Anabaptist World. Read More

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