Moving from Two Sunday School Hours to One

Friday 22nd March, 2013

I recently had a friend in another state ask several friends (including myself) if they had any experience in moving from two hours of Sunday School to one. He was seeking advantages to the change as well as pitfalls that might be experienced. There are several reasons why this issue may need to be considered:

  • recent construction/completion of educational space,
  • significant decline in attendance,
  • need to change the Sunday morning schedule (especially lengthening worship or time between Sunday School and worship),
  • a move toward more off campus groups,
  • and more.
Having worked with some churches who have taken this course of action, here is what I shared with him:

Advantages of moving from two Sunday School hours to one:

  • Setting up rooms is easier (only have to set once for Sunday)--don't have to clean up after first in order to be ready for second
  • No communication needed between those who share space on Sunday morning
  • Easier to distribute records to classrooms once without fear of the second set getting misplaced
  • Communication about when Sunday School takes place is simpler
  • Planning a teacher/worker meeting on Sunday before Sunday School is simpler (only have to meet one set of teachers)
  • Teacher enlistment is slightly less confusing
  • Only need one Sunday School secretary (and/or Sunday School director or assistant)
  • Classroom signage is simpler
  • Can examine the Sunday morning schedule and start worship earlier (lengthen worship time)
  • Only need preschooler care for two hours rather than three
Disadvantages of moving from two Sunday School hours to one:
  • People today prefer choices
  • Some people prefer to come early and leave early (often senior adults) and others prefer sleeping in a bit and coming later (often young adults)
  • Offering Sunday School after worship makes it easy to invite guests to go with me now to Sunday School rather than inviting them to come next week
  • One Sunday School usually means fewer classes when combined and will almost certainly result in lower attendance
  • One Sunday School usually needs fewer workers meaning former workers will be slightly less regular in attendance and less care will be provided (fewer shepherds cannot care for the same number of sheep as more shepherds did)
  • There will be fewer available classrooms for growth in one hour
  • Have to decide what to do with workers from Sunday School hour that is being dropped
  • Have to communicate with workers and members from Sunday School hour that is being dropped
  • For some churches, this change with be difficult to reverse (move back to two hours) even if needed
What would you add to my response from your experience? A move from two Sunday School hours to one hour does not have to be a step backwards. But think thoroughly about the decision before you make it. Don't allow this decision to slow or stop growth. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about Sunday School space and facilities, check out these blog posts:

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