Sunday school isn’t what it used to be. I frequently consult with Sunday school superintendents and Christian Education directors in my work for PRC and hear the same concerns: declining attendance, competition with other activities on Sunday morning, struggles to get teachers, and budget cuts. Often these leaders, as well as their teachers, are older people who have been involved with their church’s Sunday school for years. They remember the “good old days” when Sunday school was a busy place and churches were building parish halls or other facilities to handle the growing amounts of children and youth.
Frequently Sunday school staff members are disheartened. They are following the formula that worked before, providing loving teachers and a fun curriculum in a nicely decorated space, but still find their enrollment going down each year, with those enrolled showing up for Sunday school sporadically, if at all. Many of them no longer want to be involved but continue out of a sense of duty and because “no one else wants to do it.”
Often I’m consulted because a church thinks a change in curriculum is in order. We talk about curriculum for a while and then the real concerns start to come out. “Why don’t the children come to church anymore? How do we compete with all the other Sunday morning activities? How do we reach the parents?” We start to talk about how the world has changed, how dwindling attendance isn’t their fault, but a result of changes in the culture. Often there’s nostalgia for the way things were, then finally acceptance that those days are over. Once that happens, then we can begin to talk about alternatives to doing things the way we’ve always done them in Sunday school or even, perhaps, ditching Sunday school and doing something else.
On Thursday, May 5, 2016, at 7:00 Eastern Time, I’ll be leading a free PRC – Practical Resources for Churches webinar about the changing 21st century Sunday school. How do we cope with these changes? What do we need to do differently? I’ll be asking attendees to share their struggles and possible solutions in the webinar. If you’d like to join us, you can click here to register. If you can’t attend in person but would like to view the recorded webinar, you can use the same link. If you’re reading this blog post after May 5,2016, the link will still work and will allow you to view the recorded webinar. If you have any questions or concerns, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.