What does the future hold for Sunday School? What will Sunday School look like in the days ahead? Will the COVID-19 pandemic result in some permanent changes?
I am neither a prophet nor a future-teller, but one of my Gallup StrengthsFinder strengths is futuristic. Basically that means that I am able to envision and am excited about possibilities or tendencies for the future. Added to that is conversation with key Sunday School leaders in Kentucky, at LifeWay, and around the nation, and the picture becomes even clearer for me.
Future of Sunday School Possibilities
I challenge you to stop and take out pen and paper to jot down a few of your thoughts about the future of Sunday School. Allow me to share seven of the possibilities that I envision:
- Increased Eagerness to Attend. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Groups have missed one another. Many will be eager to see one another face-to-face. Eagerness will be high, BUT some (including teachers) will be hesitant to return due to fear and ill health. In addition, some formerly regular attenders will struggle to regain the habit of rising early enough to attend at the church building.
- Desire to Continue Online Meetings. Attendance in many classes on Zoom and other providers has been higher than face-to-face meetings in the church building were before COVID-19. (This has been true for the class I attend.) Some classes and individuals will desire to continue meeting online even when meeting in the church building is possible. In fact, some classes will do both: meet at church and online. And some will share the link to the recording of the meeting with those who miss class that day.
- New Definition Results in Increased Attendance. Attendance will include people in the church building, away from the church building, online, and even those who watched (or listened to) a recording of the class.
- Planning and Training Delivered Online. Higher percentages participated in online Sunday School planning and training during COVID-19. With the comfort in using online tools, like Zoom, this will be a common approach to planning and training in the days ahead.
- Increased Use of Electronic Curriculum. Some teachers and attenders will prefer to receive electronic (digital) versions of the Sunday School lesson. This will result in some churches asking members to order and pay for their own curriculum subscription. This may be further necessary due to decline in tithes and offerings.
- Social Distance Results in Meeting Other Days. Desiring to maintain social distance, some groups will choose to meet in larger spaces (such as the fellowship fall, etc.). Because only one group can meet on Sunday morning in that space, some groups will meet on Sunday afternoon or evening and on other days of the week. This will have to be scheduled and spread out to allow appropriate cleaning between usage.
- Classroom Cleaning Will Be Expected. Due to COVID-19, rooms will be kept cleaner than before. A group will be hesitant (or refuse) to return to room in a week where the room was unable to be cleaned.
Plan for Post-COVID-19
For additional thoughts about the future of Sunday School post-COVID-19, check out Ken Braddy’s post, What Will Sunday School Be Like Post COVID-19? To prepare for these possibilities, I challenge you to gather your Sunday School team on Zoom or other online tool. In advance, ask them to brainstorm possible results moving forward after COVID-19. Then lead your leadership team through a discussion of their thoughts and yours.
Challenge them not to retreat but to move forward boldly. Be positively expectant. Make preparations together. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!