Church, We Have a Problem

July 27, 2021 | Tracy Troxel

For many years we have held Sunday school for all ages during our first worship service. And, we have rarely offered any Sunday school during our 2nd worship service.

Two problems developed out of this structure:

First, more and more families decided to drop their children off at Sunday school and attended the worship service at the same time. After the worship service they would pick up their kids from Sunday school and go home. Over time, this essentially led to the de-churching of the next generation. In other words, fewer children and high school students were experiencing the worship service. This was not an intentional plan. It’s just the way it began to work.

What has happened at Stone Hill has happened in many churches all over North America: A student can end up graduating from high school having very minimal experience worshipping with their families or in a multi-generational church context (people of all ages worshipping together). Nationally, we are starting to see the effects of this among high school graduates as they go off to college. Sometimes they find themselves in a college fellowship group, but a larger portion of our next generation never really get connected into a church post-high school because they have had very little experience within a multi-generational worship context. Now we are finding that, after college, significant numbers of the next generation find it very difficult to connect, stay, and become a vital part of a multi-generational church.

Second, we have never fully developed a robust adult education program. Because of space limitations of the Westerly Road building, a significant portion of adults were unable to go to Sunday School. Where would the parents have gone even if they had wanted to go to Sunday school? We didn’t have room. This meant that we were missing out on the opportunity to provide for adults even in their own personal discipleship. We’re not convinced that a 30-minute sermon every week is enough Biblical teaching to deal with the variety of things that we face in our culture. We want to provide a solid foundation to enable all attendees of all ages to be properly discipled.

These two problems weigh on us.  How do we create an environment where our children and teens connect with a multi-generational church before they leave high school? How do we provide the array of teaching that we need for our adults? Check out this week’s Stone Hill Happenings for our proposed solution.