A few weeks ago I did a lesson about Spiritual Warfare. I had heard that some recently Baptized kids were having trouble sleeping and others had shared their worries with their parents. As I was teaching the lesson they kept bring up Spiritual Armor (Ephesians 6). They were pleased with themselves for at least knowing this Spiritual Armor existed and exhibited an interest in knowing more. I determined that that would make a good follow-up lesson and spent many hours preparing over the next week.
The next Sunday I walked into the kids room all set, with a matching activity, great snack, the works. However, instead of the fifteen girls and one boy I had the week before the class now consisted of six boys and only one girl who attended the week before. I felt like I was in a completely different church. Where was my class?
This had happened about a year ago too. I taught a lesson on Spiritual gifts one week and had them fill out a Spiritual Gifts Questionnaire the next week. Unfortunately the kids that got the questionnaire were completely different kids, unprepared and not interested. But that was the only plan I had for that weeks class. It was a bust.
As memories of that miserable day flowed through my mind I remembered that I had two other Sunday school lesson plans in my bag. One lesson plan was tailored more for boys, and the other more for girls. I put away my lesson on Spiritual armor and taught a different lesson. As jarring as that unexpected change in direction was to me, the class was not a disaster. The boys were engaged in learning and the lessons goals were successfully realized. The next week the girls returned. The original lesson was taught to the audience it was intended for with success.
Dan Folgelberg warned in a song, "Changing horses in the middle of a stream gets you wet and sometimes cold." Luckily he wasn't talking about a Sunday school class. I'd rather be wet from sweat than drowned by disaster any day. From now on I will always come to class with several options ready to go. I write my Sunday school lesson plans clear enough so I can teach them even if my old brain locks up half way through. I fear "brain freeze" in front of an expectant group of middle schoolers. It happens. These Sunday school lessons can be taught cold. I could even hand one to an untrained parent or volunteer in an emergency and it would work.
Games can be easy too. I always keep a bag of balloons with a list of balloon games. A bag of rubber bands and some paper cups can amuse boys. Grab a couple rolls of toilet paper from the bathroom and have the girls make bridal gowns. Keep candy or "Zany-Bands" for prizes. Cash will always work for a prize in a pinch (actually that was a real hit one day).
I can't fix the inherent problem of uneven, sporadic Sunday school class attendance. But being flexible and prepared for several lessons helps.