To can or not to can? Children’s ministers explain the choices they’ve made.
In: “We should never take a vacation from God’s Word.”
Out: “The teachers deserve a break.”
An overwhelming majority of churches keep their Sunday school doors open in the summer, but some feel it better serves their churches to shut down Sunday school when kids’ regular schools are out. To better understand each position and to help you make the best decision for your program, we asked 50 Children’s Ministry Magazine readers to talk to us about their approach to summer Sunday school.
SUNDAY SCHOOL’S IN A desire to keep kids in the groove of attending church motivates many summer programs. “Consistency is important so people don’t get out of the habit and have a chance to do something different,” says Debbie Reiniche, a children’s minister in Manteno, Illinois.
“Having summer Sunday school is important for the sake of continuity,” agrees Frances Browne of Kernersville, North Carolina. “We don’t want to send the wrong message by stopping for summer.”
The wrong message, according to Jo Ellen Axthelm of Kirksville, Missouri, is that Christianity is a seasonal affair. “Year-round continuity is important since we don’t stop being Christians in the summer,” Jo Ellen says.
“We should never take a vacation from God’s Word,” affirms Katherine Cooley, a children’s minister in Hollis Hills, New York. “In fact, since there’s more time, perhaps more can be taught and learned since children are out of regular school.”
And that’s the second issue that drives summer Sunday school-the increased free time on kids’ hands. In the lazy summer heat, slumbering schedules can often awaken families’ interest in church activities. “We’re a neighborhood church so it’s important to have Sunday school in place in case someone brings their children,” says Julie Ann Davis of Chicago.
“Our kids would have a fit if we didn’t have summer Sunday school,” says Cindy Griffo of Springboro, Ohio. “Our attendance really doesn’t go down, and the kids want to be there.” But do adults feel the same way?
“We have summer Sunday school because if we lose the children, we’ll lose the parents,” says Pat Tubbs of Sunnyvale, California.
The adults in Debra Handkins’ church in Cincinnati would be lost without summer Sunday school. “Our church members would have a revolt,” says Debra. “Our worship services are concurrent with Sunday school-with three sessions each.”
“Even though attendance drops, we don’t want to turn off people with very young children,” says Deborah Anne Kolacki. “We do it for the adults, so they can worship, as well as the children attending Sunday school.”