As the school year draws to a close and summer begins, it’s time to consider shaking up your usual approach to Sunday School during these busy summer months. Summer Sunday School is a challenge for most congregations. Vacations and other changes in attendance patterns, often mean fewer students and even fewer available volunteers. Sadly, the easy answer for many churches is to just give up. While some congregations plan alternate activities during the summer months, a significant number take a vacation from Sunday School.
But there are alternatives to just abandoning programs. Shake things up instead!
- Shake up your staff
Finding adequate staffing often proves difficult during the school year, let alone the summer months. One solution I found helpful was recruiting teachers for only a set amount of time. The teachers who taught during the school year knew that I would not ask them to teach during the summer quarter. Likewise our summer leaders only committed for the summer months. The promise of a limited commitment made it much easier to get folks signed on as volunteers. Because of vacation plans, some potential volunteers were only available for one month during the summer. A flexible approach to summer allowed even these very short-term volunteers to contribute to the Sunday School program.
- Shake up your structure
In some congregations it seems that members believe God Himself commanded, “Thou shalt hold Sunday School between thy Sunday morning worship services.” Consider changing up your standard Sunday School time to better serve member families during the summer months. A Sunday evening might work better for families who travel on weekends. Midweek summer evenings might also serve as a good alternate time for religious education programs. An evening program can turn into a family or multi-generational Sunday School to incorporate more members of the congregation or the community.
- Shake up your materials
Summer also provides the opportunity to shake it up with the materials you use for Sunday School. Topical and thematic units from Concordia Publishing House use a different format from the materials typically used during the school year. These topical units have fewer levels and easily adaptable teacher and student materials.
Some congregations adapt Vacation Bible School materials to use throughout the summer months. The typical five-day VBS program provides more than enough content for 10–13 one-hour lessons.
If you face challenges with your Summer Sunday School I encourage you not to give up; rather shake it up and see the possibilities.
Comment below if you have any ideas or need any help from our Sunday School team or fellow leaders with your summer ministry.