Last Wednesday, the adult sub-committee of the Board of Christian Education and Spiritual Formation held an Adult Sunday School pulse check. Class teachers, leaders, and other interested parties were invited to talk about what Sunday School classes are doing well, where they are being challenged, and how the Board can help build on those strengths and address those growing edges.
One of the things Sunday School classes do well is creating a community of caring. It is said that friendships multiply our joys and divide our sorrows, and in Sunday School classes of all shapes and sizes, friendships are born and nurtured. Sunday School classes celebrate with one another their accomplishments and those of family members. They respond not just with words but with actions of love when someone is sick or is going through a difficult time – a meal, a card, a phone call. This isn’t to say class members always get it right, or never miss an opportunity to reach out to one another, but that doesn’t mean they stop trying, either. And their care and concern reaches beyond their own members to the larger community with class sponsored mission projects, too.
Sunday School also affords an opportunity for learning. It isn’t called “school” for nothing, after all. The group suggested compiling a “catalog” of resources (both people resources and curriculum resources) that classes can draw from out of their particular needs, as well as continuing to subscribe to the Formations and Nurturing Faith dated literature.
One area of challenge is in getting people to plug into Sunday School. The Sunday School rolls are deep, but the average attendance on any given Sunday is not. River Road has a history of having more people here on Sunday for worship than for Sunday School, and that’s upside down from what the typical Baptist church experiences. (But we know, River Road is not your typical Baptist church.)
The reasons folks aren’t coming are as varied as the people. For some folks, getting them to church earlier than 11am is always going to be a struggle. It was suggested that the church explore offering a Sunday School type experience at additional times and places than the traditional Sunday School hour. Many churches have seen small group ministry flourish as groups gather in homes and other locations throughout the week to study with, learn from, and care for one another.
Moving forward, the adult sub-committee hopes to help continue to strengthen our Sunday School offerings on Sunday morning, as well as continue to explore ways to engage those in our congregation that are not plugged in to a Sunday School class to help them enjoy the fellowship and learning such a smaller setting affords.