For those of you who know me, you are probably aware that I received my PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences last year. I’ve determined that the statement, “You can take the student out of the lab; but you can’t take the lab out of the student.” seems to apply quite aptly to me. Thus, it should come as no surprise that in the next few months the Sunday School will be experimenting (or piloting as I am inclined to call it) with a reconfiguration of the Sunday School, in particular, for the second service. The following is my tentative lab report for the pilot program.
In the past, attendance of the 10:30 am Sunday School by children enrolled in K-3rd grade has been notoriously terrible. It is not rare that there are no students present. Additionally, on those Sundays where there is a special service for children (e.g., SPLASH Sundays) attendance is even more abysmal.
While the Sunday School Staff (including myself) do not want to prohibit children from experiencing the awesomeness that is our Sunday School program, we are mindful of the resources that are, perhaps, being wasted by continuing to offer Sunday School during the second service. If there were no Sunday School offered during the 10:30 service the number of volunteer staff available to help teach nearly doubles which would allow for additional avenues of much needed change; including, splitting apart the preschool into two groups (preschool and Pre-K) to allow for those children to make better use of their learning capabilities or dividing the K-3rd graders into two groups (K-1st and 2nd-3rd) to allow for the older children to participate in more advanced study and discussion.
Finally, by encouraging the children who would typically be in Sunday School at the second service to stay in the service you are providing them with the opportunity to see what “Church” is, something that the majority of children (regrettably) are not getting on a regular basis at St. Paul UCC.
The Current Study:
The members of the Sunday School Elder committee (which is where this idea first began to take shape) are referring to the pilot program as “Sunday School Express.”
There are currently three dates planned for Sunday School Express to be piloted:
April 24th (SPLASH Sunday)
May 8th (Mother’s Day and Child-Friendly Service during 9 am service)
June 12th (VBS Sunday)
On those Sundays where Sunday School Express will be piloted, there will be no traditional Sunday School for children in grades K-3rd during the 10:30 (contemporary) service. These children will be encouraged to attend the 10:30 service with their family. If remaining in the service becomes too difficult for any of these children, I will be in the Heritage Room with coloring pages and a Bible Story.
Throughout these 3 Sundays, preschool children will be invited to head downstairs as we understand it can be quite difficult at that age to sit through a full service for children in this age group.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments, or concerns as we begin to develop and evolve the children’s and youth ministries here at St. Paul.