The Future of Sunday School Revisited

“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17 NIV)

As you prepare for a new year of Sunday School, I thought it was time to repost a blog that was one of the first for me:

In the last few weeks I have heard some religious practitioners suggest that Sunday School is dead (or at least on its way to the coffin.) I must admit that I would agree…at least to some of the practices that some churches are using! I want to suggest a few areas that we must address for Sunday School to be revitalized and going strong:
Sunday School must be focused around Bible study anywhere and anytime. Sunday School was traditionally on Sunday morning because of Sabbath (Blue laws) where worship & Bible study happened on Sundays (Nothing else did!) Now we have 20-40% of the adult population who work on Sundays and others involved with children who are on traveling teams (sports) on the weekend. What are we doing to provide Sunday School for them? Let me suggest some options:
1. Have a parent of a child who is on a traveling team offer to have a Bible study at a convenient time on the trip.
2. Offer to have a Bible study at hospitals, fire departments and police stations at the shift change or break time.
3. Have a member skip Sunday School one Sunday (yes…I said skip) with the purpose of going to grocery stores and other places where people work on Sunday and talk to them about alternative times for Bible study.
4. Have Bible studies in the workplace (with permission) at lunch for those who want it.
5. Go to community stores and other places where people gather each week and ask if they would be interested in Bible study there (remember “Biscuits & Bible.”)
6. Have a Bible study in your residence one night a week and invite neighbors to join you.

One of my most successful bible study times was Friday nights with a potluck dish dinner with about six families in the parsonage. Another was a young men’s class that met a Panera at 9 a.m. on Sunday. (They wouldn’t meet at 9:30 a.m. at the church, but were there for breakfast at Panera’s!)

Sunday School is Bible based…not curriculum based and leads to discussion rather than lecture. Let me digress…I recently visited a church where the teacher read the students quarterly and then asked, “What do you think?” Of course he took time to talk about his political opinions. That Sunday School class will not gain many new members and will diminish at some point unless something changes! Bible study should focus on application and transformation not knowledge and needs discussion and students delving into Scripture for learning retention and transformation.

Sunday School needs to take advantage of technology. There are several things to consider here:
1. We have some churches who already are taking advantage of Facebook, e-mail, texting and other ways to follow-up the lesson with questions of ongoing learning outside of the time set aside for Bible study. More classes need to take advantage of it!
2. Do you have someone in the military or one who has to be away on the weekends for work? Skype them in with a laptop and wireless network. (Some may not have this option, but do you have a member with a laptop and a wireless card?) Can you imagine the dynamic of having a military person, who is a member of your church, being able to participate in Bible study?
3. Finally let’s dream a little: Young adults are more inclined to have a Bible study by Google Plus with a circle of friends or Skype (computer video conference) at 10 p.m. at night than come on Sunday mornings. Is there a night owl in your church who could facilitate a bible study?

Sunday School is soon to be dead unless we begin dreaming new dreams and discover new possibilities to reach people for Christ through Bible study. Are you ready to dream and see that dream come to fruition?

About tonystopic

Seeker and connector to the abundant life as a husband (to Katrina), father (to Tara & Joseph) and Field Strategist/Sunday School Specialist for the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.
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