Can Sunday School be saved?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Sunday school, a staple of Protestant church life in the United States in the 20th century, is in decline, prompting some scholars to question whether the institution has a future.

    The Southern Baptist Convention has reported declines in Sunday school enrollment each year since 2004. That year's annual statistical survey by LifeWay Christian Resources reported Sunday school enrollment of more than 8.2 million. By 2010, it dropped to 7.6 million.

    Source of story http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/7049/53/
     
  2. tinytim

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    It has ran it's course... thank God we have other programs in church that are better at Christian education. Small Groups is one.
     
  3. Salty

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    But why is SS declining. Are we too lazy to get up on Sun morning. Dont we like to study the lesson each week and/or memorize a Bible Verse?
    Is it a matter of a lack of dedication.

    If SS is declining - then I suppose that public school would be declining as well.

    Programs are fine - but what are we learing?
     
  4. righteousdude2

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    Good Point!!!

    I think this is a well-thought-out point, and in many ways I'd have to agree. And it is interesting to see that TT and I can agree on something!

    The concept of small groups is one that has barely touched the tip of the ice berg, and if churches would use them as an evening service substitute, or week night alternative to even church for those who work on Sundays and have an aversion to the institution of the church, small groups are the way to go.

    Like Salty, I am sad to see SS run its course, and would have to say that in some cases, especially smaller churches, SS has yet to burn itself out!
     
  5. mandym

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    SS is small groups. Not sure why you would think there is a distinction.
     
  6. Crabtownboy

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    We have our children's Sunday School during the worship and no weekly adult SS.

    However, for adults we get together one Saturday a month for brunch and Bible study. Instead of using quarterlies we look at the Lectionary for the coming month. From the Lectionary readings we use our Bibles, commentaries and other books for our study. Four groups are formed. Each group takes one weeks readings for study and discussion. After about 40 minutes of study the groups get back together and report on their thoughts and questions. The benefits are at least two fold:

    1. It is a good study and questions can be addressed twice, once in the group and once with the entire group.
    2. Our pastor, in fact, our current and past two pastors have used the questions raised to help them prepare their sermons.

    I was surprised when we started this how well it was attended. The attendance has held steady, in fact I believe it has grown a bit. The church is small numerically and about as many now attend the Saturday Bible Study as at a normal preaching service.

    SS has been a concern of mine for a number of years. Our culture and thus Christianity seems to be in the process of a huge change, perhaps the greatest change since the Reformation. I believe our job and that of the younger generation will be in finding new and effective ways of getting the message of Christ to people. The old ways that were so effective, revival, Sunday School, etc. are either dead or dieing. So, we do not want to change the message, but we must change the method of presenting Christ. I believe that will have to be more directed at taking the message outside the church building. The old bring them in does not and will not work well in the future.
     
    #6 Crabtownboy, Jan 11, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2012
  7. glfredrick

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    SS can be saved, and there are reasons why it is declining.

    First, it is seen by most mainline denominational churches as only for children. Baptists are rather unique in seeing SS as for the adults in the congregation.

    Second, the way that SS is taught are rather arcane and meaningless. Most of the materials I have seen used (in at least 5 different denominational groups plus the various sects of Baptists) are rather pointless stand-alone messages that are not really intended to be used as discipleship or even Bible study lessons for churched people. They are mainly a tool to allow newcomers to be introduced to some biblical topics, even if they have never been in SS before. That was a plan developped during the time when SS was the major outreach arm of most congregations -- or at least that was the Baptist plan.

    Third, most SS reduces Bible study and/or discipleship to a fill-in-the-blank book study instead of something that requires action.

    Fourth, much of what happens in actual SS is meaningless.

    Cure some of those issues and SS will again thrive. People need some PURPOSE or IDENTITY that causes them to see the time spent as valuable and that purpose has to be something other than, "Our purpose is to meet again next week because that is what we do."

    I find home groups meeting during the week much more effective, especially when they transcend the mere teaching time into living in gospel community and neighborhood outreach in the most natural possible way -- by neighbors!
     
  8. gb93433

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    I believe that people are looking to belong to something that has a sense of community and provides growth. Almost anything that delivers that will stay. If it is nothing more than "fun" then it will not last.
     
  9. Berean

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    I suggest you read "A Weed in The Church" by Scott Brown with an open mind, looking for help not listing all the reasons it won't work.
     
  10. preachinjesus

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    The larger/better question is: Should it be saved?

    SS is declining in many churches because many churches are declining.

    Most growing churches are utilizing a more progressive groups methodology that sees all groups (SS, small groups, home groups, affinity groups, etc) as, well, groups. The traditional SS model has become vacated by many churches because there are better ways of doing groups ministry. The traditional view of SS is that it is the primary group setting, the meta-group if you will, where all people begin and stay.

    Right now, at the church where I get to serve, we utilize a broad groups ministry approach. We see all groups as groups. Our goal is to move people into effective groups environments so they'll group and be transformed. Though we offer Sunday morning groups, they are mostly attended by older members. People are so sporadic in their attendence (part of our metro-culture) that it is difficult to use traditional measures...so we don't.

    SS, as it was done traditionally, was effective for a time when you could expect people to attend their local church 3-4 times a month almost every month. Some churches can still do this. This provides the basis for consistent engagement. When SS is done excellently it is one of the best vehicles for overall ministry that a church can have.

    Yet it has fallen on hard times and should be reconsidered for most churches. So the bigger question remains: Should we save SS?
     
  11. J.D.

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    Sunday School is unneeded today. It was originally designed to teach academic subjects (i.e., the 3 R's) to poor children that were working in factories during the industrial revolution. Later, bible studies were added, and as public education became more and more universal, academic subjects were dropped completely as it was no longer necessary. It hung on as an institutional tradition and took over the role of spiritual teacher - a roll that was previously the responsibility of parents. Since the church takeover of child-teaching, parents have become more and more slack in their responsibilities.

    A parent with a Bible and a good Catechism can teach their child more about God than the Sunday School ever can. Sit down once per week for about an hour, read a chapter or so of scripture, discuss, read one or a few catechism questions and discuss, and have prayer together. That's all it takes.
     
  12. Baptist4life

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    Sunday school is thriving in my church! We have about 325 members and our SS classes average 240 men, women, and children in attendance! We have classes for every age, and probably 8-10 DIFFERENT adult SS classes. It's a very vital part of our church, and well attended! Not sure what's happening elsewhere, but here in Ohio the Baptist church Sunday school is alive and well. Our children's curriculum assures that a child who starts SS in the 3rd grade will have gone completely through the Bible by the end of the 6th grade. Our adult SS classes range from studies of different books of the Bible, to college age groups, to homebuilders, to seniors, to men's and women's only groups, that share prayer time, study, and accountability. I love SS! Lack of attendance/interest certainly doesn't mean SS should be done away with. I think it means a church needs to take a "spiritual exam" of itself, and ask WHY no one seems interested. Could it be the teaching, leadership, lack of adults interested in teaching a SS class? Is it not needed anymore? I dare say, it's needed more than ever!
     
    #12 Baptist4life, Jan 11, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2012
  13. DaChaser1

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    Think that a lot of this depends on IF the local church has a mandate, feel a mission to support children /youth ministries!

    As our baptist church has a large children and youth group going, as we have noticed that several churches in area really don't have youth or children church going on...
     
  14. J.D.

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    They must be studying their Bibles.
     
  15. DaChaser1

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    you mean the ones that were "watered down"?
     
  16. Woodymdt

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    Our Sunday School ministry is going well in our church also. We have classes for all ages from pre-school through senior adult, and have a good attendance of all the classes.

    We're looking at starting two new classes in the next couple weeks, and looking forward to assisting and praying for these new classes to reach out in our community.
     
  17. Crabtownboy

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    Wednesday School in addition to SS. We have a program we call Wonderful Wednesday that meets in the early evening and ends at 7:00 p.m. It attracts a number of kids who do not attend on Sunday as well as most of the kids who are in our children's Sunday School.

    Have others experimented with weekday evening programs?
     
  18. Baptist4life

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    We have AWANA every Weds. night from 6:30 to 8. We have about 160 in attendance. About half of those un-churched otherwise.
     
  19. freeatlast

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    I think that if the churches will return to teaching the word of God in Sunday school and the pulpit then perhaps God will spare what we call Sunday school.
     
  20. J.D.

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    I guess all the on-line bible version must be watered down. I did a search for "Sunday School" and couldn't find it in any of them.
     

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