The decision to change the adult Sunday school curriculum in a church affects not only class members and teachers but also ministerial and office staff, the church treasurer, the Sunday school director and even people who do not attend Sunday school.
Any of these might offer resistance. After all, change affects the status quo. But by leading, not pushing, churches can make the change positively.
Carefully raising and answering questions like those below involves more people in the process and creates a climate for consensus:
Who places the Sunday school curriculum orders? How often is that order updated? What is the ordering process?
Who determines what curriculum adult classes will use? Do classes have a choice about their curriculum? How satisfied are classes with their present curriculum?
Are Sunday school teachers satisfied with the leader’s material they receive? Are they open to change?
What can we do to involve adults in Sunday school who are not currently attending? Can we interest them by starting a new adult class?
Raising any one of these questions takes courage. Some church leaders dismiss the idea of changing curriculum not only because they fear resistance, but also because they fear the answers to the questions they must ask in order to make the change.
Perhaps they should more logically fear what might happen to their churches if they fail to examine all the options and do not offer their parishioners a choice.
For many churches, placing an order for Sunday school curriculum is a routine, scheduled task. The person responsible essentially looks at the previous order, perhaps adjusts the quantity and then submits the order. It’s simple, efficient and requires little thought.
But is it best for the people who use the curriculum? Is it the best use of the church’s financial resources?
A regular review—involving staff members, Sunday school teachers and class members—of the church’s Sunday school curriculum order is healthy and productive. The changes a church must implement as a result of those reviews are likewise a positive exercise.
A bold but necessary step in becoming a courageous church involves allowing members to think for themselves and express those thoughts openly. One way to do this is to allow them to have a voice in selecting the material they use in Sunday school.
Adult Sunday school classes should have an opportunity to express their satisfaction level with their Sunday school material. Classes and teachers who are dissatisfied should be free to explore other options.
Most churches at some point in their history reach a plateau in terms of membership and Sunday school participation. Some churches avoid a decline and instead experience new energy and growth by adding Sunday school classes.
Wise church leaders regularly ask: Why don’t more adults attend Sunday school? What do we need to do to get them involved?
They answer those questions often by starting new classes, tossing preconceived notions of what an adult Sunday school class should look like and allowing adults to explore the Bible using resources that most closely match their needs.
“Changing Curriculum Takes Courage: Part 4” will identify ways Acacia Resources can meet the needs of adult Sunday school classes.
Jan Turrentine is associate director for Acacia Resources.