The amount of time Sunday School has been allotted in many churches has shrunk over the years, and this is where the Rotation Model can really help! By repeating the story each week for four weeks through different workshops, we are expanding the amount of time Sunday School teaches each story, not shrinking it.
Shrinking Sunday School is no joke. If you're in a church that only gives you 25-35 "functional" minutes of traditional Sunday School each week, but used to give you 45 to 50 minutes, your Sunday School has effectively been CUT IN HALF. In addition to that being completely ridiculous and sad, it's also irresponsible. Giving teachers half an hour every week and making them change the story every week produces anemic lessons, quickie crafts, and a generation of adults who won't know their Bible.
Short of increasing class time, the only other solution is to STOP changing the story every week, ...and that's exactly what the Rotation Model does.
Traditional Model and Schedules: 25-35 minutes per story.
Rotation Model: 35 minutes per lesson x 4 weeks = 140 minutes per story,
What has happened to the Sunday School Hour?
Decades ago, many churches scheduled a full hour of Sunday School BEFORE worship or DURING worship (kids not going to worship at all). Then roundabout the 80's, we started to see a movement toward "children in worship for part of the time." They would depart worship before the sermon to attend Sunday School or "Sunday School lite." In some churches, that "during worship" time BECAME Sunday School as families left following the service.
By the early 2000's, "the Sunday School hour" had shrunk to 25 or 35 minutes in many churches for a variety of reasons (one of the reasons: "late-arriving" becoming endemic). In others, it ceased altogether as churches moved their children from adult worship to "children's worship."
(What's the appeal of children's worship over Sunday School? It's EASIER. It's easier for two people to lead one big group for 20 minutes, than for four teachers to prepare and leading four 40-minute classes on the same Sunday. And you don't have to deal as much with individual kids in children's worship. You can just treat them as part of the crowd. The other problem with "children's worship" is that it in NO WAY prepares children for the culture and lethargy of adult worship, and so they will not feel comfortable in adult worship as they get older. But I digress...)
I think we'd all agree that over the past few decades, parental attitudes about showing up on time and on a weekly basis have also become a big challenge. "Regular" participation used to mean "most of the time," but in many churches today it now means "half the time." In the past, getting kids to a 9 a.m. Sunday School class used to be less trouble for parents, but the culture has changed.
Shrinkage has also taken place in overall numbers in many denominations and congregations. Sunday Schools that once had 50+ kids back in the 70's are now lucky to see 10. This decline made it easier to cancel the Sunday School "hour" or shrink it beyond recognition.
These are generalities. The reasons for your Sunday Schools "declining" time and attendance may be a combination of the above reasons with other unfortunate circumstances, Nevertheless, sticking with a traditional model that still gives us 52 different lessons a year while cutting our teaching time almost by half is a model that doesn't care about what we are teaching.
Providentially, the Workshop Rotation Model is a good answer for Sunday Schools facing shorter class times:
Not only does the Rotation Model spend far more time on each story than the traditional model, but by doing it over a four or five week period we are making sure our irregular and low attenders STILL HEAR the story. The traditional model, on the other hand, ensures that if you miss 3 out of 4 Sundays, you miss 3 out of 4 Bible stories.
The Rotation Model can't solve your aging congregation or denomination. It can't solve your boring worship or sermons or lack of adult education. But SLOWING THE RATE OF STORY CHANGE is the answer to making sure we are giving each story plenty of time.