I am a member of the St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Trivandrum (Kerala) and we are part of the Malankara Orthodox Church in India. As on March 2013, we have 1,375 members in our parish register and about 1,000 are active which means about 2,500 – 2,750 individuals but there are only about 100 children for the Sunday School. So what are the issues facing the Sunday School today and what can be possibly done to revive it?
My daughter was attending the Sunday School here for the last three years and what I have written below is based on my observations in this church. This year she is going to the Nanthancode Parish, another of our church in the neighbourhood, for Sunday School.
1. Students are declining in Sunday School because they are loosing interest.
2. Sunday School should be conducted in English medium. When all the students attend the regular school in English medium, why is Sunday School in Malayalam medium?
3. Methodology and the style need to be changed to attract the present day students who are smart and intelligent than our generation. Make classes more interactive – use of audio visual tools, good music, etc.
4. Many of our children are going to Sunday school of other churches (including other denominations) because they are much better organised- great music, lot of activities and good fun. They enjoy it.
5. Just announcing ‘Don’t go’ will not help (even the previous vicar used to do that).
6. Have regular PTA meetings after announcing in church. There should be at least 3 meetings in one year. (There have been no meetings in last 3-4 years).
7. Conduct orientation / skill development / leadership training programmes for teachers including heritage tour. If they don’t know about our church, how can they teach the next generation? Experience does not matter if you cannot adapt to the changing times.
8. Have Tea / Snacks break before the starting of the classes than in between. (Classes can start from 10.30 am after breakfast.)
9. Use better teachers with music background or professionals to teach songs, use musical instruments. Children should not get scared after hearing the songs.
10. Involve parents (who wait in the church during the Sunday school classes)
11. Are we doing anything for children with special needs? Need to work on this issue.
12. It is surprising that the Annual Budget of the church does not have any programmes or projects for reviving the Sunday School.
13. Committee members should check if all the children in their ward are attending Sunday school and if not, they should find the reasons and see what can be done to bring them to Sunday School
14. Vicar and Asst. Vicar should interact with students and teachers regularly – at least once in two weeks.
15. Bishops should find time to visit Sunday School and interact with students at least once in six months. It’s bad if they cannot find time for the next generation.
I have not mentioned about the syllabus or the content because I feel it is beyond the reach of an individual parish to make any changes. Not that I am happy with what is being taught there.
Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts also. I am sure many other churches will be having a similar problem with their Sunday Schools and what I wrote might be of use to them.