How We Deconstructed Sunday School & Tripled Attendance
We deconstructed Sunday School at All Saints last year! We did more than that – we eliminated Sunday School altogether and moved our early Mass to 9:00 a.m. giving us exactly 30 minutes to get ready for the 10:30 a.m. mass.
But we have not eliminated Christian Education because we moved all of what used to be Sunday School to Wednesday School and married it to an Agape Meal with the whole Church Family. Our folk, some of whom were reluctant, gave it a shot and the result is that we have never had more people in education classes in our history and we have never had so much good fellowship. I cannot imagine how we would spend more good time with one another just hanging out and being there. We realized last year that 1 hour or 2 hours on Sunday simply was not enough time to build community, to build trusting relationships and to prepare ourselves to “manfully fight under His banner, against sin, the world and the devil!”
Here’s how we do it at All Saints: The men’s prayer breakfast sets up the tables and chairs after their meeting Tuesday morning. We begin serving dinner at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday with a meal prepared by Fr. Dan Malcolm (formerly a professional cook, baker and Presbyterian preacher) and his team. The dinners have varied from Beef Wellington, Chicken & Barley Soup, Pork Roast with veggies, to Hoppin’ John and Cornbread. Fr. Dan insists that everything be made from scratch. Our children serve the tables. At 6:30 dinner is over and we go to our classes. We have, for the first time, classes for all age groups – 6 classes total counting the nursery. At 7:15 p.m. the classes are over and folks are preparing to drive home. We have families with children that travel close to 40 or more miles, so we want to get them home as early as possible. Our attendance has ranged from the mid-50s to the 70s. Education is important, but the fellowship at the Agape is just as important!
Winter Term (2013)
+ Our Winter Agape & Christian Education will meet next Wednesday, January 16 at 5:45 p.m. We have regular classes for the nursery and the children and youngsters, as well as adult education.
John Murphy is teaching a class on the sacramental imagination that began January 9 and will run through February 6:
SACRAMENTAL IMAGINATION: THE LITERATURE OF EPIPHANY
For the season of Epiphany, the season of The Word made flesh, our Wednesday School class will read some stories and poems in which God’s justice and grace are manifest – shown forth and made incarnate in the images of objects and events in our “ordinary” lives, which are charged in extraordinary ways with the sacred sense of Our Savior Jesus Christ. Though you may have missed a class here and there, they are all individually beneficial and you are encouraged to attend.
Our schedule of readings is as follows below:
For Wednesday, January 9:
The Prologue to The Gospel of John
Excerpts from “A Song to David” by Christopher Smart
Excerpts from “Jubilate Agno” by Christopher Smart
For Wednesday, January 16:
“God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
“Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
“As Kingfishers Catch Fire” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
“That Nature is A Hereclitean Fire and Of The Comfort of The Resurrection” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
For Wednesday, January 23:
“The Hammer of God” by G. K. Chesterton
For Wednesday, January 30:
“Revelation” by Flannery O’Connor
For Wednesday, February 6:
“Parker’s Back” by Flannery O’Connor
The literature for the class is in the undercroft.
+ Monday Morning Bible Study
A new thirteen week study of the Old Testament prophet Daniel has begun meeting in the undercroft. The class is using the Precept Ministry resource “God’s Blueprint for Bible Prophecy: Daniel.” This class is not “for women only” and all who are able are welcome and encouraged to attend. For further information about obtaining the textbook or any other questions, please contact Priscilla King, email@example.com, 540-456-6458.