I tend to write original information for The Sunday School Revolutionary or to reference additional material that can be found in books or web articles or blogs. At times I have shared the major points from an article or book. On rare occasions, I have shared the entire contents of something someone has written. This is one of the latter.
Boyce Bowdon wrote a great article entitled Shut-ins Participate in Sunday School by Picking Up Phone. The article is shared on the Cokesbury website. Here is a large chunk from the heart of the article:
Mr. Malone had an idea: Start a class for homebound people. But there was a problem: How can people who can’t leave home come together? His answer: Bring them together by phone. Arrange for a weekly conference call. Shut-ins could dial a certain number at a certain time. Of course, it wouldn’t be as good as gathering in a classroom, but at least they could listen, talk, share ideas, develop relationships and support one another.
He started by testing the idea with several shut-ins. They liked it. Pulaski Heights’ Older Adult Council—coordinated by Mr. Malone—started working out details. “After two or three months, we negotiated for a good rate with the telephone company, and soon we were underway,” Mr. Malone explains. “We’ve been going great ever since!”
Homebound people of any age can join. The Older Adult Council gives each member the following:
- A class roll, containing participants’ names and phone numbers—unless they prefer not to be listed. Members call one another, especially during times of special need.
- The Adult Bible Lesson quarterly, which is the text for the class. “Members study their lessons and are well prepared,” Mr. Malone says.
- A copy of The United Methodist Hymnal. Someone leads singing and class members sing along.
“We begin each class by visiting for a few minutes,” Mr. Malone explains. “Then we sing several songs. Then the teacher reviews the lesson. After that, class members share their ideas. We share joys and concerns and pray. When an hour is up, we say goodbye until next week.”
Even though the class has never been advertised, it now has about 20 members, and most of them participate every week. Two members no longer live in Little Rock—one is in Texas and the other is in Georgia—but they still call in every Sunday.
Just because a person can no longer physically attend Sunday School does not mean that we should write them off. They deserve regular care and contact. Some churches make regular home visits with homebound persons in order to deliver that care and contact. Even in the case of a homebound phone ministry, I would recommend face-to-face contact on a regular basis as often as possible–at least monthly.
In addition, I think many of these individuals also can plug into the ministry of the church by writing notes, making phone calls, or serving as a part of the church prayer ministry. For additional or related information, check out these blog posts: Ideas for Sunday School’s Ministry to Homebound Adults, Sunday School Ministering to Homebound Adults, and Reconnecting with Sunday School Absentees. Connect people to your Sunday School. Be revolutionary!