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Sluffday School

There are quite a few people in my ward (previous wards too) who seem to skip out on Sunday School. Sacrament meeting attendance seems to be good, as does RS, but Sunday School is sparse. Why is this?

I have been observing and it seems to be for different reasons (feeding the baby, preparing the lesson for YW or RS, having presidency meeting, talking to friends, meeting with a member of the bishopric, making copies, or just hanging out on the couch or outside.)

One of my good friends does this (rarely comes to Sunday School). I asked her if it’s because she doesn’t like the teacher or thinks it is boring, and she said no, that it’s just habit. I need to ask her where the habit started — maybe by serving in Primary so long? I do admit that after I was released from Primary, EVERYTHING was boring for awhile. It took me a few months to settle back in to traditional lessons. It’s much more fun when you can sing songs or play games every few minutes!

Another friend in a previous ward told me that she stopped going when it was election season (4 years ago) and things could get politically heated. Since she didn’t agree politically with most LDS people she decided to skip out.

I am not taking a position on this at the moment, but just throwing the question out there.

Today we happened to sit at the back of the chapel during Sunday School because my husband was expecting a work call, and I realized that there were quite lively conversations going on in the lobby and also behind the curtain at the back of the chapel. It just made me wonder what are all these secret meetings are that I am not invited to? Are they more fun than Sunday School?

For the record, I think our Sunday School teacher is very engaging and good discussions happen there. I like Sunday School. Just wondering if I am missing some amazing thing I don’t know about!

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • ClassyLady October 1, 2012, 6:25 pm

    Currently, I’m in Primary…but I used to try and ditch Sunday School when the lessons focused on Joseph Smith and/or the pioneer/Restoration era. I had a period of about 8 years when I was extremely conflicted about the church and seriously contemplating leaving. My challenge is remaining in the church because I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon while simultaneously STRONGLY disapproving of Joseph Smith actions as an adult (i.e. polygamy, Helen Mar Kimball manipulation, Mountain Meadows Massacre, Brigham Young quotations, etc). When you know the church’s dirty laundry and have thoroughly researched it for yourself, sitting in Sunday School can feel a bit uncomfortable. Especially if the lessons are centered on Doctrine and Covenants. Plus, once you have kids, it’s nice to enjoy your “free time” while the kids are occupied in Sunbeams or Primary. It’s like “off-leash time!”

  • Michael J. Snider October 1, 2012, 8:03 pm

    I don’t think you’re missing out on anything Angie…members have been skipping Sunday School for a long time for all the reasons you cited and many more.
    I do think that if the church put more emphasis on teacher training (with local authorities backing up that emphasis) Sunday School absenteeism would be reduced.
    If i had my druthers the church would offer speaker training. We have training for leaders, teachers…pretty much everything except for giving talks. I realize that the Spirit is the prime requirement for a talk, but I think non-members who might otherwise not be able to discern the Spirit right away, might come back in greater numbers. But that’s just my opinion…maybe i’m wrong.

  • Angie Gardner October 1, 2012, 9:02 pm

    Oh…I very much agree with speaker training. What a great idea!

    What is funny to me is that it doesn’t really seem to make a difference when the teacher is engaging versus boring. Habit, I suppose? I think our teacher now is quite interesting. When I lived in Utah, our gospel doctrine teacher was a popular religion professor at BYU and there were even sluffers in his class. Perhaps not as many but I would see people hanging out in the halls quite often. Those were the people who I would go to when I was looking for an emergency Primary sub. :)

    I remember many years ago a friend told me her ward was trying a “no Sunday School” block…something the church was testing I think. They did it in her ward because there was huge growth happening and they needed to put 4 wards in a building for a period of time. To do this, they had a 2-hour block.

    We did something similar for a short time as well during a time of much growth – but we still had SS, just shortened. I think Sacrament meeting was 60 minutes instead of 80, and SS was only about 30. Can’t remember exactly but I think we went for 2-1/2 hour total. Wards started at 8:00 a.m. and the last ward started at 2:00 or 3:00.

    Doesn’t happen here in Michigan but I can always dream, right?

    I do like Sunday School, usually. I would be sad if it went away. But I totally agree that training would be nice. I know if I were called as gospel doctrine teacher I would feel so over my head that I would not know what to do with myself.

  • Angie Gardner October 2, 2012, 12:44 pm

    ClassyLady – that’s an interesting thought I hadn’t considered. I wonder if there is a cycle. Certainly, it does seem that church history/D and C would be the most “controversial” year.

    Kind of interesting that Book of Mormon is always in an election year. I can see how that can bring up a lot of political stuff that might not be there in another year.

  • Amy Lockhart October 2, 2012, 3:19 pm

    Well if my hubby ditched Sunday School then he would miss his weekly nap :) Is that any better?

    As a previous Gospel Doctrine teacher (favorite calling for sure!!), I love SS. That could have something to do with the fact that I make an effort to read the lessons and really ponder upon what is being taught so I can contribute when appropriate and have a better understanding of what is being said. It’s always tough to be in a class when you aren’t really getting anything out of it.

    That is not to say that these sluffers you refer to are slackers too, just that I love SS!

    Also, I have seen this in every Ward/Branch we have attended all over the US. I think it must be part of the Ten Commandments I haven’t received yet …
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…The Blessing of InequalityMy Profile

  • Tracy Polyak October 2, 2012, 3:34 pm

    It has always bothered me a but to see people ditching Sunday School, because I do feel that we should be there and try to contribute to the meeting and support the teacher. But I find it more bothersome when our local leaders decide that it is time to start herding the crowds into their meetings. It is much more distracting to have people publicly chastising others for ditching their meetings than to just have people chatting in the hallway.
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  • Tracy Keeney October 2, 2012, 6:43 pm

    What you say is true, and I find it a horrible shame. In all honesty, Gospel Doctrine is my favorite part of our meetings.
    I know that Sacrament meeting is the most IMPORTANT because it’s there that we renew our baptismal covenant and get to take the sacrament, but the part of the day I enjoy the most is Gospel Doctrine. I love the more in-depth study of the scriptures– the discussion that takes place, etc.
    I’d be curious to know if the people who skip it all the time do any personal scripture study on their own.

  • jennycherie October 2, 2012, 7:10 pm

    Teaching Gospel Doctrine was one of my all-time favorite callings ever. One of my frustrations in my current calling is that my calling often pulls me away from attending Sunday School. I don’t plan meetings or lesson preparation during Sunday School, but I do often run into people who need a listening ear or a few minutes of care and I end up in the hallway or in a separate room doing that. Also, we currently have a ward librarian who, when she is at church, is pretty insistent that no one set foot in the library without her assistance. So, if we are going to be as kind as possible to her, we have to plan to make copies between meetings and/or during Sunday School. Even making a few copies or borrowing a 3 hole punch or stapler can turn into a 30 minute task, since that also involves being kind and gentle with the librarian who is often desperate for a listening ear as well. When I can, I just try to stay in the chapel because if I step out in the hall, I’ll get sucked in no matter what. Of course, one Sunday, being in the chapel is what eventually drove me back out because the sister sitting in front of me (who I visit teach) passed out and I had to help get her out of the chapel to lay down.

    The other thing that pulls me away from Sunday is that when my schedule has had me working overnight from time to time, I am pretty much useless trying to sit through a morning meeting. If I can’t stay awake sitting through Sunday School, then I purposely wander looking for people who need to talk. I told the nursery leader I would try to start wandering to the nursery when this happens so I can at least be of use to someone!

    I do find a lot of people in the halls who are semi-active, or barely returning to activity, who feel the obligation to stay inside the church for all three hours but don’t feel the same obligation to actually participate in anything. I have tried to encourage them into meetings, to sit with them, or show them to the proper room and stay with them, and it only works when they are already predisposed to go.

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