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Tomorrow's Sunday School

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Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by joecool on February 18th 2014, 3:35 pm

I haven't gone to Sunday School in a decade. Not by choice, mind you, but because my church doesn't offer it. Yet I do hear some people talking about wanting it to come back. In the past, some on leadership have dismissed it, saying "We can't squeeze it in." I've also wondered if the standard 90-100 minute service is just too much to appeal to less-seasoned generations. An idea popped into my restless brain last night.

What if we shortened our two services, and then sandwiched in an intermission time? Or as it might cutely be called..."Inter-Mission". A variety of classes could be offered for newer through mature Christians, all designed to grow people spiritually up to the point of being able to provide personal ministry to others.

Thoughts? What's working or not working for your church?

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by Claymore on February 18th 2014, 9:06 pm

I think that it's a great idea - especially if you have 2 services with 45 minutes to an hour between service times for a moderate Sunday School.

Depending on your Preacher, there could be a fly in the ointment:

Some Pastors don't like to have to squeeze their services into a set time. They say that you are hobbling the Holy Spirit (although it's actually losing "Pulpit Time" that they really resent).

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by joecool on March 3rd 2014, 9:45 am

Thanks for the input, Claymore. I've made some modifications and smoothed out the proposal. The pastor who birthed our church from his 20 years ago gave the message at yesterday's special service. He only had one day's notice, because the district superintendent was snowed in on the other side of the state. Amazing message, and amazing what the Lord can do when you lay the last-minute pressure on God instead of yourself.

His message was the Five Landmarks of Miracle Territory. Sandwiched in were the 3 stages of church life: 1) Risk-taker, which is miracle territory; 2) Care-taker, which is duty driven and inward serving; and 3) Under-taker, which is a loss of vision and survival mode.

So, I've decided to strike while the iron is hot. It has also occurred to me that I need the support of someone in the inner circle as a sort of sponsor. Inter-Mission will first be shared with the pastor's wife, who happens to be in charge of small groups.

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by joecool on March 4th 2014, 9:32 am

joecool wrote: Inter-Mission will first be shared with the pastor's wife, who happens to be in charge of small groups.

First objective met. She loves it and is taking it to her husband. Still praying for "out of the comfort zone" progress.

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by joecool on March 12th 2014, 12:22 am

Well, the staff kicked around my Inter-Mission proposal. The idea inspired them to come up with their own: cancel 1 of our 2 services in June and start up an adult Sunday School in Sept. It was presented tonight as a way to take care of our empty seats problem. After listening to a 30-minute back-patting session by the rest of leadership, I had to chime in.

"Is cancelling a service closer to risk-taker or under-taker? (see earlier note) It looks like we're putting the cart before the horse. We haven't said one word yet on how to improve or expand our ministries in order to fill the seats." Got pretty quiet. I am SO frustrated. And I hate burdening you guys.

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by Claymore on March 12th 2014, 12:38 am

Generally, the reason for having multiple services fall into one of 3 categories:

1. There is a need, because the other service(s) is/are overfilled.

2. To give a service to those "early risers" who do not want to be in church until noon.

3. To give a different service venue for the preferences of the congregation (traditional Hymn Service and a Contemporary Music Service).

Do any of these apply to your church?

If so, why drop one service?

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by Phillip Gross on March 12th 2014, 5:24 am

We had tried going to two services a couple years ago. I think we did it for about 6-9 months if memory serves to give it a good go. We had done it because of crowding issues. What we found in our situation was that the numbers actually dropped off a bit overall. There was less "synergy" in the services because of the sparseness and people migrated out. We also lost relationship with people because some went early and some went later.

I know it works great in some churches to have multiple services, but it didn't seem to in ours. We ARE a small church though... We ended up shifting things to create more seating to accommodate people and just pack one service as well as can be done. 

I told pastor that unless it's absolutely necessary for a season, I'd rather try to increase building size to keep the "family" together to which he agreed. We're not talking numbers in the thousands though at our church. We're actually less than 100. 

Don't know if this helped at all, but maybe pulling back to group everyone back together might not be bad. Sometimes families need to regroup and refocus. Sounds like there are some differing views that might need to find common ground, or part ways if unable to...

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by RRCmdrBennett on March 12th 2014, 11:12 pm

A church without people would be perfect...   Wink

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by Claymore on March 13th 2014, 11:47 am

RRCmdrBennett wrote:A church without people would be perfect...   Wink

I think that I've been to a couple of churches that were approaching that goal.

(Maybe they were seeking Perfection)  scratch 

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by joecool on March 13th 2014, 2:32 pm

Claymore wrote:Generally, the reason for having multiple services fall into one of 3 categories:
1.  There is a need, because the other service(s) is/are overfilled.
2.  To give a service to those "early risers" who do not want to be in church until noon.
3.  To give a different service venue for the preferences of the congregation (traditional Hymn Service and a Contemporary Music Service).
Do any of these apply to your church? If so, why drop one service?

1. Not overfilled anymore. In the last 26 months, our average attendance has fallen from 270 to 155.
2. No doubt, it's the reason for some.
3. Both services are exactly alike.

The push for a single service coincides with a special event a couple of weeks ago. We had a one service Sunday to celebrate our church's 20th anniversary. Afterwards, many members were heard to say "It was great! We should have a single service all the time." Staff jumped on it as a solution to our problems..."It's tough looking at all the empty seats; it's tough finding enough musicians..." The thing is, we've had single service days before, probably 4-6 each year (holiday weekend, etc.). But we've never heard one peep about them before. Why now? I think it's due to two things: 1) the nostalgic feeling around the theme, and 2) the visiting pastor's totally awesome message. We have to be careful not to misinterpret their response.

Staff always says "We don't want transfer growth (like the other AG church in town), we want Kingdom growth." Fine and dandy, I certainly agree with that. But going to a single service for the wrong reasons is an example of transfer growth. We would be pushing first service people into a later time slot. No Kingdom growth there. And probably a net loss. Surely some people would leave. Another staff rationale is that "We need a season of unity," and they say it would be of undetermined length. Hmm. That implies we have disunity.

I know the others will continue to push for and decide upon a single service at next month's meeting. If necessary, I'll offer up a compromise. Have your season of unity for a short-term fix for our problems, but limit it to the summer months. At the May leadership retreat, come up with real ideas for actual growth, and spend the summer fine-tuning them. Re-launch in September.

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by Claymore on March 13th 2014, 2:46 pm

I think that you have a good thought, there.

Since the vast majority of families (with children) take their vacations during the summer, I would expect that you would see a drop during that time, anyway.

Just simple extrapolation: There are about 12 weeks during the Summer Vacation Season, which equals 12 Sundays. If every family with kids took 1 week of vacation per summer, they would likely leave the weekend prior to the Off-Days and return the weekend after the Off-Days.

So missing 2 of 12 Sundays equals a 1/6 drop. So, it should not be surprising to see about a 17% drop in attendance over the Summer.

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by joecool on March 13th 2014, 6:13 pm

Claymore wrote: Since the vast majority of families (with children) take their vacations during the summer, I would expect that you would see a drop during that time, anyway.

Happens every summer at my church. With a corresponding dip in tithes. Noticeable at anyone else's?

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by Claymore on March 13th 2014, 7:09 pm

That's kind-of Common Knowledge.



Except that we had a former Pastor who said from the Pulpit,

"If any Family or Friends come to your house to visit on a week-end and make you miss (my inferred) Church on Sunday, they're no friends of yours.  They've got six days a week that they can visit. They don't need t be coming on Sundays."

Now what kind-of Wackadoodle attitude is that?

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by joecool on April 2nd 2014, 4:44 pm

joecool wrote: I know the others will continue to push for and decide upon a single service at next month's meeting. If necessary, I'll offer up a compromise. Have your season of unity for a short-term fix for our problems, but limit it to the summer months. At the May leadership retreat, come up with real ideas for actual growth, and spend the summer fine-tuning them. Re-launch in September.

Funny how things can work out for those that wait upon the Lord. Without me having to "do" something, the staff has backed off the one-service proposal and are now looking at how to make a Christian Education time (aka, Sunday School) work.

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Re: Tomorrow's Sunday School

Post by Phillip Gross on April 2nd 2014, 6:13 pm

Good to hear.
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