How We Deconstructed Sunday School & Tripled Attendance
We deconstructed Sunday School at All Saints three years ago! 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 a parishioner or clergy volunteer and their team. The dinners have varied from Chicken & Barley Soup, Pork Roast with veggies, to Hoppin’ John and Cornbread. 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-40s to the 70s. Education is important, but the fellowship at the Agape is just as important!