How to Get More Kids in Sunday School
The lack of children and youth in Sunday school is a serious issue for churches. Many denominations have seen an overall decline in attendance since I was a child in the 1970s. The number of those under 18 attending church has declined by 41 per cent as well, which is higher than our population growth over time would suggest; "the percentage drop among kids age 12-17 was 28%, while adult attendance fell 23%." This drop means that if we continue to lose young people at this rate, then future generations may not be familiar with Christianity or even religion altogether.
The solution? Involvement! Church members need to get more participation from their younger community members and make them feel like part of something bigger. But ... how?
Kids are the future of your church. The more kids you can get into Sunday school and Bible school, the better off you'll be. Kids will grow up to become adults (duh, right?), and if they feel welcomed when they're young, then there's a good chance that they'll want to continue coming back as an adult. There are many ways to make sure your Sunday school or Bible School welcomes these precious children! This blog post includes tips for attracting more kids to your program, including using technology creatively, designing spaces with children in mind, planning engaging lessons that teach age-appropriate material and creating opportunities for hands-on learning experiences.
Here are 5 great ideas to help you consider some ideas on how to increase Sunday school attendance.
I kinda cringe to say it, but it does make sense and it's where we are! With the USE OF TECHNOLOGY, a Sunday school program can become more fun and engaging to attract young kids.
A Sunday School Program is looking for ways to engage with younger generations instead of relying on traditional methods as they have in the past years. This idea might include adding computers or tablets into their lessons so that children could learn at different levels. Having classes also via skype with other same-aged kids from around the world will help keep it exciting and less like "normal" weekends.
Do you have missionary families whose kids might enjoy joining your class via technology? How about reaching out to someone who is hospitalized or housebound? We have had all learn how to do that in these days of corona-inspired Zoom school and online holiday parties, right? Now that we have become used to Zoom or Skype meetings, we can keep them up for those housebound or missionary kids who have no other way. Or these types of classes could even BE the mission!
Despite it's drawbacks, technology does have the capacity to enhance your students' experiences and enable elementary-age students to attend Sunday school course, participating more actively within those classes.
But don't rely on it! *wink* That is why ...
In designing a space for children in Bible class, it's best to DESIGN AN ENVIRONMENT EXCITING AND FUN. Children want an area where they can explore new things and learn about God while having entertaining activities that make it easy to follow along.
Why shouldn't a Sunday school classroom should be fun and exciting? One way to make it that is by decorating the room with different colours, textures, patterns, and shapes! For example, one teacher painted a mural of Jesus walking on water in an ocean-blue colour over his cinderblocks; another bought colourful tables from Walmart for their children's classes instead of having them sit upon folding chairs every week.
From Sunday school to a winter wonderland, my mother's classrooms were always full of Bible learning centres, each with its unique theme. Sometimes she had to add more centres or move them around because so many kids wanted in on the fun.
And don't even get me started on the Biblical Timeline on the wall! This visual was always the biggest hit as kids got to create their own images during each lesson and put them under the story that was learned on that day. it stayed up the entire time as they learned Bible stories chronologically. If you like the idea of a timeline, check it out here! (a legal-sized-paper version is available here)
Ultimately, designing Bible class spaces with children in mind is important because it should create an environment excited about coming to classes.
When planning lessons for Sunday school, it is essential to SPEND TIME PLANNING ENGAGING LESSONS THAT TEACH AGE-APPROPRIATE MATERIAL. This preparation may mean different types of activities or stories for preschoolers than for middle elementary children. This kind of planning, for example, means talking about the Sabbath day on a level they understand—and teaching by example while showing them how much fun learning can be!
Sunday school lessons should be age-appropriate. An example is to use different media in connection with the lesson's theme, such as video clips or computer programs for older children and colouring pages designed specifically for younger kids.
Think of a topic that would be age-appropriate for your Sunday school class. One example could be "The Parable of the Sower" in Luke 8:4–8, which is appropriate for most children because it's easy to understand and relatable.
Another example of teaching the same thing to different ages: 3rd graders might be learning about the Israelites building a temple for Solomon. They can act as workers, try to complete a puzzle of the completed temple or read some scripture together that has something to do with building temples in their lives and what it means. 6th-grade students could learn more about how wonderful King's palace was by reading an account from one of his servants (2 Chronicles 9). Then they could talk about all that went into making such beautiful things happen, like having bronze pillars made by casting them out of clay moulds. This activity would help 5th & 6th graders understand materials science and engineering principles taught during Science class at school - but they now have a Biblical example!
A teacher can create OPPORTUNITIES FOR HANDS-ON LEARNING EXPERIENCES in Sunday school by bringing objects into the classroom that were used or lived during biblical times.
For example, the teacher or teachers can do hands-on children's church activities with the kids. For instance, they could make their tabernacle model and learn how the Israelites used it in ancient times. This and many more activities you may find or free or affordable here in our Scout Shop or at The Sunday School Store.
These tactile activities allow students to understand better the beginnings of how their belief has evolved and how it has made connections with what they are currently studying or will study later on in life.
And last but certainly NOT least, teach the kids you HOW TO INVITE FRIENDS TO CHURCH; USE YOUR CLASS AS THE BIG DRAW! We may differ on this opinion, but I have seen great growth using a challenge or a friendly competition between Sunday school classes with inviting friends to church. In fact, I finally wrote a piece on it and call it something like, "How to Invite Your Friends to Church without Being Weird." HAHA Check it out! In the meantime, you can also read these growth ideas and enjoy this precious short video with children inviting an adult to church!
fare warning: a teared up a little. 😢
The lack of children in Sunday school IS a serious issue for a number of churches. If you are part of one that has this problem, then it is probably time to take action! Reach out to families with your message. You can do this by explicitly using the ideas listed above to get kids excited about coming back on Sundays and being more involved with their church community! Still, the best way for a church to reach out to have actual attendance in Sunday school is by having strong relationships with the families they are trying to recruit. Consider that important aspect in your children's ministry goals for next year, yes now, a few months ahead. Building these relationships will pay off as parents grow into adults who want their children to learn about Jesus.