When Christian Education Doesn't


A colleague of mine has some research findings to add to our earlier thread about Christian Education. Among them, in the samples included in his research, are the following:

1) Four-out-of-five UM adults (80.4%) report “little” or “no” interest in Sunday school, Bible study, or small group formation experiences.

2)Two-out-of-five (39.1%) claim that believing that Jesus Christ is God’s true son is enough — since they have a guaranteed spot in heaven, they don’t have anything else of value to learn.

3)An additional 48% believe that attending weekly worship is adequate, and that there is no need for any other formational experience in their lives.

4) “Boring” is the number one word or phrase associated with Sunday school (among all adults).

5) “Fellowship with friends” is the number one reason adults attend Sunday school classes.

6) Those adults who attend Bible studies find them “interesting” and “informative,”

7) Only 1-in-6 (17%) report finding practical information that applies to their daily lives.

8) About one-third (31%) of regular Sunday school attendees can remember what their class was about within the first 24 hours. This drops to less than 10% after one week, 3% after two weeks, and essentially 0% after three weeks.

Source: GBOD Research News and Views

This, of course, represents the typical regimen of adult Christian education via the adult Sunday School in the United Methodist Church. It does not capture what may be happening in venues where Christian formation, community building, and missional deployment are intrinsically and intentionally linked.

Still, the question remains, where are you seeing different results in what you're doing with adult formation? How do you know you're getting different results? And what would you suggest to others considering the significant changes that are obviously necessary if United Methodists are going to move beyond the failure of the adult Sunday School to form disciples, much less missionaries, in Jesus' name?

Peace in Christ,

Taylor Burton-Edwards