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why we don’t have a sunday AM class for high school students

 

 

There seems to be one question that comes up in our ministry more than any other.  It is one that I usually hear in the fall when we are starting up.  This fall is no different.  Here is the question, are you ready for it?

Why don’t you have a class for high school students on Sunday morning?

This is a fair question, so I thought I would take some time to address what we do (or don’t do as they case may be) and most importantly why.  My hope is that after reading this, you will have a better understanding of what we do and why, specifically as it pertains to Sunday morning.  You may not agree with our conclusions, but at least you will understand where we are coming from.

I like lists, so let’s start with a list.

They are in no particular order, but together help tell a bigger picture. These are the things we considered, wrestled with and prayed about as we looked to how we were going to program our ministry.

  • In SFM (student & family ministry), we are as interested in the long term viability of student’s faith as we are about keeping them engaged in the short term.
  • Recent statistics report somewhere in the ballpark of 60-80% of all students who enter college as Christian leave without any kind of active faith at all.
  • John Knox is mainly a one hour/service church.  What I mean by that is most people who attend John Knox, do so only for one service.  Unless you are one of the few Sunday School teachers for CFM (children & family ministry) work in the nursery, or are helping lead worship, you only stay for one hour/service before leaving.
  • There is currently no class offerings for adults on Sunday mornings, and no class offering for 1-6th grade during the second service.
  • Sunday School and Sunday AM Christian Education is an old model that I believe should be reevaluated.  The reason Sunday School started was the church meeting a need that no longer exists.
  • We believe that worship is the most important thing we do when we gather together on Sunday’s

Let’s unpack a little of this and see where it takes us.

If our list is correct, and if most families are only here for one hour/service then students and children who attend a class, never attend the worship service.  Looking at the long term viability of students faith, we believe that it is paramount that students learn to worship in a church service.  There will quickly come a time when youth group, classes, activities and mission trips will no longer be available to our students.  When that happens, how will those students connect with a local church?  It will have to be through the worship services.  If the discipline of attending worship (and yes I believe it is a discipline) hasn’t been learned, how will that student be able to make the transition from youth group and classes to church life on their own?  Statistics say that they don’t very well.  I believe students who attend and get plugged into a local church during college will have a far greater chance of maintaining and growing in their faith than those who don’t or those who only get plugged into a parachurch ministry.

After looking at everything…

SFM decided that if high school students were going to be here on Sunday AM, and if they were only going to be here one hour/service then we didn’t want them to spend that time in a class, even if they “enjoyed” it more than being in worship.  Perhaps there will be a time in the near future where we will be able to have conversations about if we should and how to make our worship services connect more to younger generations.  We can also have conversations about how to engage our students into the broader life of the church including it worship.

One other option

There is one option for a Sunday gathering/class that  I would consider.  I would consider offering a time to meet and learn after the 2nd service.  It would be for students to attend church together during the 2nd service and to meet afterwards for some food and a time to unpack the sermon, dig a little deeper, and make application points.  I don’t want to do this if people aren’t willing to participate, but if folks really believe that a class on Sunday mornings is important…

Hopefully you know why we do what we do.  Like I said at the beginning, you might not agree with our premises or conclusions, but now you know where we are coming from.

I welcome any and all conversation around this topic…we are in this together!

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