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Standing at the crossroads: where does adult Sunday school go from here? Wollf, Randy Peter

Abstract

Churches around the world offer Adult Sunday classes as a forum for adult religious education. This time-honored approach to church-based adult education has encountered difficulties in recent times. For many churches, Adult Sunday School is standing at a crossroads. Where does it go from here? This study attempted to determine those factors that influence adults' decisions about whether or not to attend Adult Sunday School and what changes could be made to increase participation in the program. The context for this study on Adult Sunday School is Langley Evangelical Free Church located in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. This mid-sized church of approximately 600 people provided data upon which any conclusions were made. Surveys on Adult Sunday School were distributed to 365 adults and 195 surveys were returned. Respondents were given the opportunity to volunteer to participate in a discussion group to discuss the implications of the survey results. The results was that thirty-one people participated in six discussion groups. The discussion groups were instrumental in making sense of the data and recommending changes to increase participation in Adult Sunday School. The study asked participants to rate nine factors as to their influence in determining whether or not they would attend Adult Sunday School. The factors were ranked by respondents in the following order: spiritual growth, relevance, practicality, teaching style, sharing experiences, social contact, learning, intergenerational and external expectations. Other variables that were analyzed included age, marital status, family makeup, educational level and involvement in small group Bible studies. There were some significant differences in how members of some of the subgroups rated the factors. The study also looked at barriers to participation which were categorized as situational barriers, organizational barriers and personal barriers. The discussion groups concluded that three factors should be addressed to increase participation in Adult Sunday School at Langley Evangelical Free Church: content relevance, Sunday morning format and a more systematic structure. The results of this study provide valuable information for designing a blueprint for change at Langley Evangelical Free Church which may also be suggestive for other churches as they evaluate Adult Sunday School.

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