We all had great hopes that vaccinations would push COVID aside. With the rise of the Delta variant of COVID, that appears not to be reality. I listed some of dramatic impact of these months on Sunday School in my previous post, How Will You Rebuild Your Sunday School Post-Pandemic? To rebuild Sunday School, we need to address these impacts now: (1) attenders dropped out and care reduced, (2) outreach declined, (3) planning stopped and goals declined, (4) training stopped, (5) teachers quit and are burning out, and (6) classes ended and no new classes started.
In this 6 part series, I will address rebuilding in these areas one impact at a time. In Part 1, I will address the reality that attenders dropped out and care reduced.
Attenders Dropped Out
Early prognosticators predicted that churches would lose 40% of their attenders. In my conversations with church leaders, that predication does not appear to be true. While churches are seeing a wide variety of attendance percentages, most believe that number will shake out closer to 10%. Even churches who are currently only reaching 50% of attendance prior to COVID are seeing 70-90% of previous attenders at least once during the month.
Many habits were developed during these months of COVID, good and bad. Some prefer to watch worship and Sunday School from the comfort of their own home. It is less struggle to get the family ready. At the same time, class leaders developed the habit of accepting members’ absences.
Out of these habits, the care that was carried out early in the pandemic grew tiring. Many helped to make caring contacts early, but as the months passed the teacher often became the sole person making contact and extending care. Teachers grew tired as well. The absence of care inevitably led to reduced attendance. Out of sight becomes out of mind, and not cared for becomes missing.
To address these issues, classes benefit from member care leaders who don’t make contacts for the class but to lead attenders to make contacts. In the absence of these leaders, the teacher has to cover the job. In many cases, the teacher is already burning out and often busy on Sunday resulting in the neglect of the job of assigning care.
Rebuild Sunday School
To rebuild Sunday School post-pandemic, care for members is needed. Since the class leader to member/prospect care ratio is 1:5, teachers cannot do the care alone (rebuilding will also require care for and reaching of prospects as well). Enlistment of a member care leader and a prospect care leader to lead the class to care inward and outward is a key action.
Identifying absentees who need contact and care is essential. This will be an ongoing (weekly) focus. When needs are discovered, intentional effort is made to address those needs to strengthen the bonds of relationships. If needs are beyond the ability of the group to meet, the need will be shared with the pastor to check if the church is able to meet the need.
Regular times of gathering members (and prospects) beyond Sunday morning are needed. Fellowships, projects, and meals are varied means for the group to get to know one another better. Fellowships tend to be more fun and social. Projects tend to be more related to work and helping others. I suggest planning at least one of these each month. A rotation of the three tends to meet the preferences of most groups best.
What have you found helpful in reaching out to members who have dropped out during COVID? Share your efforts. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!