Like a lot of children raised in a denomination, I remember my Sunday school classes teaching me about my denomination. There were the seasonal colors, things about the liturgical calendar, and something to do with sheep. To be honest, I was never sure if the goal was to make me Christian or just to make me a good rule follower according to my tradition. Perhaps as a result, none of it really stuck. Now I am an ordained person in the tradition of my upbringing and I still have to Google what color is what liturgical season. Apparently eight-year-old me connected so little with the material that thirty-six-year-old me still cannot retain it.

It was no one’s fault. It was the 1980s, and we were so denominationally focused at that point that it made perfect sense to teach children that purple was the color for Lent instead of emphasizing why we actually had to have Lent. Jesus dying for our sins was not exactly vibing with the era that gave us Full House.

But I do remember one thing about Sunday school that shapes me to this day. I remember my teacher. She was warm and loving and always reassured me of God’s love for me. She asked us how we felt about things instead of always telling us what we should be doing about them. This was my favorite part of my early Christian education.

Which is why the StoryMakers curriculum has changed the game for how I am teaching children about Jesus now. It combines the biblical story with social and emotional learning in a way that I think my Sunday school teacher of childhood would have loved. Children are invited into God’s story and then encouraged to think about it as their own. Each week, the children open the pages of their very own beautifully crafted ’zine, which is really a workbook/comic masterpiece, and get to answer the most fascinating prompts.

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When we talk about the darkness in creation, the children are asked what scares them. When we talk about animals and plants being made, the children draw their own ecosystems. This week, I saw one ecosystem with smiling flowers and unicorns (anything is possible!) and a world one of our little boys created called simply, “Danger World.” What Sunday school curriculum out there gives children the chance to express such a spectrum of feelings on the same page? Most importantly, StoryMakers emphasizes an emotional connection and God’s creativity and love of the little makers.

Some years ago, I taught Sunday school at a small church in Manhattan. A typical class was me and three little kids. And I did a lot of damage. I had no real curriculum. So, hand to heaven, I think that every single class ended with me suggesting some moral behavior about “being good.” When I think about what I taught those kids, it breaks my heart. I wish I had been given StoryMakers. I wish I could have told them about the love of Jesus. I wish they could have made Unicorn Cats in the name of the Lord.

And so, yes, this is kind of a sales pitch. StoryMakers is the official Sunday school curriculum of Mockingbird. But honestly, it’s more than that. This is me telling you that you do not have to create your own stuff week after week. You do not have to train a group of small children to be denominational advocates. You can actually teach them that Jesus loves them in all of their silly and beautiful brilliance. And StoryMakers makes it so easy.

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