Is Sunday School Making a Comeback in 2019? Part-2

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In our post last week we left you hanging with questions about the trends we are seeing in Sunday AM education programs, such as:

  • Does it mean that every modern church that has worship space and only enough education for Preschool and Children up to 5th grade are going to rush out and buy Sunday School Curriculum?
  • Does it mean that all churches need to add 50% more space to accommodate what could be an insurgence of Sunday AM education offerings?

I don’t think so.

But I would suggest that we need to take note and keep watch. In talking to several church leaders on this matter, they believe that the 20-40 year old adults in their congregation are looking for more connected community.  They want to be in community with others, and given their time starved work and family weeks, Sunday is the best time to do that.  We have also seen more “large group” education environments suggesting a bent toward higher quality teaching and/or broader community may be desired.

I was able to get some additional input from Dr. Thom Rainer and Dr. Sam Rainer (As I type this, the 1984 song by the Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!, keep playing in my mind…sorry for the rabbit trail)

What does this all mean? Where is Robert Raikes when you need him (Bet most of you don’t know who that is)? Here is some of what they shared.

THOM: Many churches are re-discovering on-campus open groups, what we once called Sunday school. Two primary factors contribute to this comeback: childcare is easily handled, and the participants can get their group and worship experience in one trip.

The challenge, of course, is space. Can a church really justify group/education space that is used only one day a week? Or how does a newer church afford to build such space?

The conundrum.

SAM: We (West Bradenton Baptist Church) will not allow off-campus groups to occur in which children are present. There are far too many stories of bad things happening to kids in off-campus groups. Child safety has always been, and will continue to be, a major problem in off-campus groups. If given the choice, I’d rather spend the money on poorly-used education space than risk something happening to a child.

The way we’ve handled our excess weekly space is to open our church to the community. We have a day school and many different groups that meet onsite during the week. We added doors in our hallways that get locked to protect the day school kids during the week.

Given the current times in our culture/society related to safety and security, the ability to have planned, organized and SAFE child care for these “group” education meetings is not to be taken lightly.  As a church, we are addressing issues that were unthinkable 10-20 years ago.  Child security and safety is clearly on the top of that list.

Here is what I believe…take it or not:

  1. God created us for community and fellowship, regardless if it is Sunday AM, Saturday AM, Thursday night or any other time and in any location.
  2. Discipleship…however you live that out…is a critical part of spiritual development and formation.
  3. Online church is great…I love it…but it cannot put its arm around me to pray with me.
  4. I can “self-learn” a lot…thank you Google.  But God has gifted some to be teachers and preachers…I need to learn from them as well.
  5. What we call it…Sunday AM education…is irrelevant.  What we DO and how it supports the WHY of your church is what really matters.
  6. Things change…it is inevitable.  So we need to always be considering the means and methods of impacting our community, our congregation, as well as those who are NOT “here yet”. This means that what once was…may be again, but for different reasons.
  7. Start with WHY – is one of my favorite books of all times by Simon Sinek. Really look deep into your systems, processes, means and the like to understand WHY you do them.  Avoid the 7 worlds of a dying church – “We have always done it this way.” The reason for doing somethings ebb and flow…come and go…are relevant, irrelevant and relevant again. I firmly believe that the Gospel NEVER CHANGES! But our means and methods MUST church.  That is a topic for another day.

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