The teen years often mean testing expectations and exploring personal interests. Getting up early to go to church on Sunday mornings isn’t always part of what a teen really wants to do. Others might find the Sunday School program boring or irrelevant. If you find teen Sunday School attendance dropping, it’s time to find ways to make the program more appealing and relevant.
Who should advise you on revamping the teen Sunday School program? The teens themselves! It makes sense. If you want to know what will get them there, go right to the source.
Start with teens you know well in the congregation. Ask them to meet with you over coffee or a light lunch. Let the teens tell you what is wrong with the current class or what they would like to see in the program. Ask any specific questions you have about the current program.
Make It Inviting
Do you meet in a stuffy church basement or in a room decorated for elementary kids? Teens are more likely to feel welcome if the space fits their age group. Instead of hard metal folding chairs, fill the room with bean bags, director chairs and floor pillows. Let the teens help decorate the space. With permission from the church, help them design and paint a mural in the room. The ownership in the design makes the teens want to be in the space.
Change the Format
Teens get bored quickly if Sunday School is a series of teacher-directed lectures or lessons. Instead, introduce the topic for the day and let the teens lead the discussion. Have discussion questions on hand to guide the conversation. Frame the questions and discussion topics so teens can realize how the Bible relates to their lives. It’s easy for teens to feel like the messages are outdated. It’s your job to show them that the ideas still apply to modern life — particularly modern teen life.
Another way to make the classes appealing is to do projects instead of just lectures or discussions. Have them create something that relates to the lesson or write skits that relate the day’s lesson to modern life.
Switch It Up
Sunday School doesn’t always have to take place at church. Mix it up by meeting at a coffee shop or heading outdoors for the class. Go do a community service project one Sunday instead of regular class. The changes keep things interesting and keep the teens coming back to see what you have planned next.