What Does It Take to Grow a Sunday School?

Like many Canadian Presbyterian Churches, St. Paul's, Simcoe, Ontario, has had a shrinking Sunday School over the last couple of decades. A year ago the average attendance was 3 or 4 students. In less than a year we have increased our average attendance by 400%. Now true, it is easier to double or in this case quadruple attendance if you start small, but this is still good news.

How did this happen? Well of course we prayed, but we also took action. We chose two new programs to make the Children's Ministry more attractive and spiritually enriching. For the younger children we chose the "Children and Worship Program", and four adults attended a two-day training session to equip them to be children's worship leaders. Since I have been using this Montessori-based program for over 20 years, it made the transition fairly easy. For the older children, we chose the Christian Reformed program called re:form, which includes discussion based on a DVD presentation. We have also had several fellowship events for the older children in our church family.

The rest of our success story rests on the faithfulness of people. Two sets of grandparents committed themselves to bringing their grandchildren to church. Two couples, who hadn't attended the church since they were teens, decided to come back to church and bring their children. The faithfulness of these four families has been a model for all because of their consistent attendance. Now if a family with children visits the church, we look "child friendly," because we have a critical mass of children.

We still have a lot of work to do, but for now we are enjoying the children and youth God has given us, and we are equipping them to be followers and disciples of Jesus. The congregation of St. Paul's, Simcoe is very happy to include more children and youth in their church family. For more information, please contact me.

Linda Shaw
Children and Worship Trainer for The Presbyterian Church in Canada,
and Children and Worship Coordinator for St. Paul's, Simcoe, Ontario