Does Youth Sunday School Still Work? by Bruce Edwards

I travel the state training Youth Sunday School teachers and visiting Youth Sunday Schools. Many churches I visit are experiencing a decline in Youth Sunday School attendance.

I wonder sometimes if we have taken on a mentality that Youth Sunday School is “archaic” or not “edgy” enough for this generation. Some leaders see Sunday School as just a time to “entertain” and “chat” with students rather than seeing it as a time to teach God’s Word.

God has not called us as Sunday School teachers to entertain students; this generation of students doesn’t need more entertainment options. This is simply a battle we can’t win. Our Bible studies are no match for Xbox, YouTube, Guitar Hero or Wii. Our responsibility is to teach God’s Word in a way that makes a difference and impacts teenagers’ lives.

Sunday School still works when leaders make it an important part of the total youth ministry strategy. I support the principle that Sunday School is a foundational strategy for leading students to faith in Jesus Christ and building on-mission Christians through Bible study groups engaging students in evangelism, discipleship, ministry, fellowship, and worship (the five functions of the church).

Sunday School still works when we have the right people teaching. Churches must realize that not every adult who wants to teach ought to teach! Youth leaders need to teach out of the overflow from their own preparation. Students need to know that leaders are experiencing and living out Scripture in their lives. Leaders must keep reminding themselves that “it is not about us!”

It is not about asking students to come to Sunday School to “be still” while a leader “instills” information. Remember: This is the Wii generation. Teens are interactive. Effective leaders will know how to balance teaching, methodology, and interaction in their lessons.

Sunday School still works when we know our curriculum and how to use it. George Barna stated that this generation of teenagers is the most biblically illiterate generation of any before them. We must return to seeing the Bible as our curriculum. Students need to see us use our Bibles, and they must use their Bibles in every session. I am thankful that most churches provide Sunday
School resources to help our leaders prepare to teach.

Sunday School still works when teachers understand how teens are wired to learn. Lecture is great, but using only that method is boring. Sunday School teachers need to understand the eight learning styles of teenagers – visual, physical, verbal, reflective, musical, natural, logical, and relational. Remember: “It’s not about us. It’s about helping students discover God’s truth
for themselves.”

Sunday School still works when leaders work at it. A man once told me that he was looking for a resource to use on Sunday so he could prepare in the eight red lights on his way to church. An elderly woman in the conference looked at him and said, “Sir, I don’t know you, or what you do, but you could never teach in my church. Our teens deserve much more than eight red lights!” Youth leaders must focus on preparation, prayer, outreach, and relationships in

Sunday School still works. It always has and I believe it always will.


About drmarkmiller

I serve as the Sunday School, Discipleship, Small Groups Specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention
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