Alternatives for Sunday School

June 11, 2013

In my book Dancing with Dinosaurs (1993) I predicted the end of adult Sunday school.  Now we are seeing many new Southern Baptist Churches starting with no adult Sunday school and instead small groups that meet in the homes.

Now it’s time to make another prediction which has already begun and will soon be a trend – The end of children’s Sunday School.  After all, who wants to go to school on Sunday?

So what is the alternative? Well I could point you to several places Like Northpointe in Atlanta, Bay Area Fellowship in Corpus Christi, Fellowship in Dallas, Willow Creek – I could go on. And I know these are big churches, but they were doing what they are doing now when they were tiny- only difference is the scale. But the key here is that it has come to an end when children enter a sterile classroom and sit at a desk and listen to someone read from a curriculum.

Rotation was an early attempt to break up the boredom of the classroom, but it is still a classroom experience- even with the crafts. I don’t see Rotation in my thriving churches.

Here’s what I do see.

Children's Sunday School - Welcome Children enter a space that says, “Come have fun and learn.” The experience inside is more like a Children’s worship service instead of Sunday School.  The rooms are set up much like a worship space,w with a stage, lighting, video, and sound.

The most usually things I see are someone who can weave a great story, accompanied by video, music, and often drama, followed by breaking up into small groups to discuss what they learned during the morning.

Bay Area Fellowship Children's MinistryLet’s take one example- Bay Area Fellowship – and see how the church started small with its children’s ministry and then grew it to what it is today. Here is what it looked like when they were under 500 in worship and until they reached 6,000. Merely classrooms that were decorate on the outside to not look like you were entering a sterile classroom.

Sunday School Facades

Another great example is Christ UMC in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina .  The youth put on a complete skit every Sunday morning just for the elementary children.  It is one of the most ambitious ministries I’ve ever seen.  To see what they do go to The Big House

  1. wesley May 24, 2014 Reply

    can you really turn a church around and start winning soul for Christ that has always had a "sunday school"

    • Bill Tenny-Brittian May 26, 2014 Reply

      Sunday school goes all the way back to John Wesley's reforms of the Anglican church and was evangelistic in and of itself. So the existence of a Sunday school program is no indicator of whether or not a church can be "turned around." Indeed, there are many evangelistic churches out there that have adequate to thriving Sunday schools.

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