What if you shut down your Sunday School?

Day Smith Prichartt writes about an alternative approach to religious education for children:

What would you do if the families in your parish were exceptionally regular in their attendance at worship, but only a few were committed to church school; the well of prospective teachers was truly dry; you had a Vestry who was willing to take risks and try new things, and a Rector who had your back at all times and in all places; and Virginia Seminary’s Digital Missioner Kyle Oliver and CMT (Center for the Ministry of Teaching) Director Lisa Kimball dared you to try something different (and promised to help)?

What did we do? We shut down Sunday school. Let me clarify: We adopted a pilot program of online faith formation, and we suspended our Sunday morning classes. St. Andrew’s FISH program (Families Integrating Sunday and Home) began in September.

After describing her parish’s new approach, Smith Prichartt writes:

So far, I’m enjoying spending more time planning our weekly family worship, and integrating teaching on the church year and sacramental theology into our worship; investing more time in our outreach and fellowship activities, trying to make them truly multigenerational; supporting other digital communication efforts in the parish, such as the website and Facebook page; helping the adult formation committee imagine programs that will help us all grow into the full stature of Christ; and keeping the FISH site current. This is a prayerful process that I do in direct response to each Sunday’s worship.

It is too soon to say how it’s going. Participating in the CMT Hybrid Faith Formation Network Initiative is very helpful, and I continue to have new ideas from the readings and from the other members. I imagine the program will continue to evolve throughout the program year. After all, we did call it a pilot. But I’m excited to see what the church could look like “post-Sunday school,” how our parents may become more active in the faith formation of their children, and how our congregation can grow in the depth of our discipleship.

How is Sunday School working at your church? What strengths and weaknesses do you see in the approach outlined in this article?

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