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Reply to "SUNDAY SCHOOL AFTER THE PANDEMIC: Trends, Articles, Statistics"


This post is about managing expectations

Increasing Sunday School attendance has always been the goal of teachers and leaders. We've put a lot of heart and soul into the effort. That's what makes the post-pandemic prospect of lower attendance this fall and into 2022 disheartening. (See the other posts in this topic for predictions.)

Because we care, and because some have made it their livelihood, it's personal.

That's why I want you to read "5 Ways Tracking Church Attendance Can Mess With Your Soul" from Pastor Carey Nieuwhof. It's a word of grace to all of us who count heads on Sunday morning. And while he doesn't mention Sunday School, his pastoral advice still applies. Only please read it to the very end where he addresses the uncomfortable paradox about the need for counting.

(and why you still need to do it)

What his excellent pastoral advice doesn't say, however, is "who" to count. One of the great blindspots or "I'll get around to its" of Christian education has been the need to minister to the low and non-attenders.

I get it. Who wants to make that phone call asking "where were you?" I hate those kinds of phone calls, emails, and postcards when I get them, don't you? Encouraging more attendance is hard. People are often set in their ways and attitudes (including the leaders ).

In my experience, what often works is finding "that thing" that will get them involved somewhere, somehow. And "that thing" may not be your Sunday School right now (or ever). It will likely be some "simple "ask" that helps them get back into the habit and attitude of participating.

A few simple "asks"

  • Can your family help pour drinks next Sunday?
  • Can you help collect the offering next Sunday?
  • Can you help with fellowship snacks next Wednesday?
  • Can you help me be a game leader Sunday night?
  • Can I sign up your family to walk in the CROP walk?
  • Can I help you with transportation?

And then be aware of what THEIR "asks" may be you. What's going on in their life right now? What are their needs, hurts, concerns, joys, scheduling issues? Do they have transportation needs, clothing needs, childcare needs? What faith issues are keeping them away?  etc. Sharing the heart of Christ is always one of those "things."    And that heart is one of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Not a single mention of giving up or putting pressure on people.)

Don't lose heart yourself. Instead, be steadfast. It may take months or years for someone to feel part of your church's community.

Looking forward to your thoughts...


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