Reset

Sunday School After COVID-19

In This Edition:

  • Hit the Reset Button on Adult Education

  • Reset: Quotes From Avenue For Faith Podcast Episode 11

  • Top Picks: This Week’s Recommended Resources


Hit the Reset Button on Adult Education

You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me. (Psalm 119:114 MSG)

Late last year, Sherrod Avenue asked me to be a part-time adult education minister. I began connecting with others to learn more about how to do that well. Pretty soon, I began to imagine others were asking the same questions as I, so we started a podcast to help others interested in teaching adults at church.

Once I launched the podcast, I found many of my guests were saying similar things—that adult education is often neglected, that teacher training is in great need and short supply, that helpful resources are in high demand. On one episode, Keith Stanglin offered this powerful rhetorical line: “Many of our churches have all but shut down Sunday school for the better part of a year. 10 weeks of absence is enough to decimate a Sunday school program. What do you think 10 months will do?”

With all the warnings and helpful critiques, there is also a positive note echoed by many of my guests: that adult education is critically important, and now is a great time to hit the ‘reset’ button, to re-imagine what adult education looks like in our churches.

In my research, I have been deeply impressed with several things some churches are doing well.

One thing is to be intentional about your purpose. Bible class can be many things, but it won’t be anything without intentionality and purpose. Fire up your people with a shared vision of how adult education can be a response to the Great Commission, a way to encourage and develop spiritual formation, and a way to guide others toward answering the call to greater discipleship.

Another thing is to be invested. Socialization has always been important, but will be even more crucial post-pandemic. Walk together as a class through the week, engaging in spiritual practices and re-learning habits that our long hiatus may have broken.

A third suggestion is to offer resources. Having developed lesson plans and audio/visual materials can ease the anxiety of volunteer teachers. These can be done in-house (using the talent within the congregation) but can also be found elsewhere.


Reset: Quotes From Avenue For Faith Podcast #11

Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Unsplash

Randy Harris: When I think about all of the energy and time and commitment that we’ve made to adult Bible classes, I think we have precious little to show for it. And I’d want to think about that. Did we get what we were trying to do? Did we lose track of what we were trying to do? One of the outcomes of that—why do we have people who sit in Bible classes for 50 years and seem to be so malformed? So, I don’t want to abandon it. But I want to think about, ok, if I’m going to put that kind of human resource and energy into something, I’d like to think its going to do something over the long haul.

Keith Stanglin: What a great time to hit the reset button and cast a vision for Sunday School. What a great time for the leaders to reflect on what Sunday School is for, what Christian education is for, what the purposes are of Sunday School, and then what are the means to achieving those ends. That is something I think a lot of churches don’t do. Before lockdown, most churches on a lot of things—including adult education—were kind of on cruise control (“Here’s what we do; we’ve always done it. We can count on most of the people—or at least this percentage of people to show up”). And didn’t have a concrete vision or mission for it. Well, you can wipe the slate clean. It’s been done away with. We can start over. And it doesn’t have to look like the same old thing. Maybe it will, but it doesn’t have to.

Chad Landman: When I got here, there were a lot of people who were burned out. They had been in those positions for years and years and never been asked if they want a break. So I had to re-strategize and rebuild. Which was good. And the pandemic has given us even more opportunity to think about those things and restructure those classes. As we re-open after the pandemic, I am going to be restarting classes and reaffirming our class leaders. Some have a set curriculum. Some don’t.

Randy Harris: I think churches are generally struggling with Bible classes. And they are desperate for resources. People are much more interested in short-term commitments than they are interested in long-term commitments, and getting someone to commit to teach Bible class for the next year…you can get them to build a habitat house in the weeds but, you, know, not going to teach the Bible class…I think that’s hard.

Chad Landman: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with these kinds of things. But when you are given the opportunity we have been given with the pandemic, when you need to reorganize the leadership of a class, but couldn’t happen because of certain politics involved, certain members that you didn’t want to offend—we don’t ever want to do that. Well, this has given us a really good opportunity to kind of have a clean slate with a couple of classes, and say “ok. We’ve got these people who are dedicated and ready to go. So we are going to put them in charge, whereas before it was kind of languishing.” And so, that is terribly exciting for me.

Listen to the Podcast


Top Picks: This Week’s Recommended Resources

Christian Web Journals & Magazines

ABC Religion & Ethics. The religious op-ed section of the Australian Broadcast Corporation.

St. John’s Timeline. Richly illustrated videos by specialists on theology and philosophy.

Personal Blogs & Websites

Jesus Creed. The online blog of Scot McKnight and guest authors.

Reasonable Faith. The online ministry of William Lane Craig.

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Avenue For Faith is a publication of the Adult Education Ministry of Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ in Florence, Alabama. My name is Nathan Guy, and I am the Minister of Adult Education. I am happily married to Katie and also serve as President of Mars Hill Bible School. You can find more resources on our website over at avenueforfaith.org. Follow us @avenueforfaith (fb/tw/ig).