The Unfiltered Truth: What’s Happening to Sunday School and Religious Education Programs for Kids in 2023

Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday school and faith education programs are essential, serving as a guiding light for the spiritual growth of youngsters in elementary, specifically aged 6-12 years old. Lately, these programs have been through their share of trials and transformations, primarily due to shifts in generational attitudes and the unexpected jolt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunday school, religious education programs, children's ministry, faith development, church attendance, generational trends, COVID-19 impact, church programs, spiritual growth, church statistics, ministry challenges, youth engagement, innovative adaptations, faith education, viral content, social media, mind-blowing facts, eye-opening report, Sunday School Revolution, faith education unveiled.
Photo by Yan Krukau on

The Situation of Sunday School and Faith Education Programs for Kids

Sunday school and faith education programs for children aged 6-12 have faced challenges due to generational shifts and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these difficulties, these programs play a vital role in nurturing young children’s faith and have a significant impact on their spiritual growth. Church attendance and participation in children’s ministry have been affected, with fewer children attending in-person programs. However, adapting to the changing landscape, some churches have shifted their focus to online platforms or alternative formats such as Bible studies and small groups. The importance of children’s ministry cannot be underestimated, as childhood is the time when most people find Jesus, and parents have the greatest influence on their children’s faith. As churches continue to navigate these changes, it is crucial for leaders to prioritize children’s ministry, engage young families, and support the spiritual development of children.

Showing Up and Joining In

The Unstuck Group conducted a study revealing that, on average, kids make up 19 to 23 percent of total church attendance1. In simpler words, for every four adults and students participating in weekend worship, there’s typically one youngster, between birth and fifth grade, taking part in faith education programs.

But let’s not forget, the COVID-19 pandemic tossed a curveball at children’s ministry attendance. A survey that took into account the opinions of 1,200 children’s ministry leaders showed that merely 52.2% of churches have managed to restore their full pre-pandemic schedule. Meanwhile, 36% are providing children’s ministry on a limited scale, and for 11.8%, in-person programs have been completely shelved2. Consequently, 52% of respondents have witnessed a dip in the number of children attending their programs2.

Generational Shifts Steering Church Attendance

Changes in generational attitudes have left their mark on church attendance and participation in faith education programs. Barna Group’s research indicates that the way Millennials attend church has undergone changes during the pandemic, with these fluctuations affecting all age groups equally3. The slide in church attendance has been a decades-long process. It’s critical for church leaders to understand these patterns so they can address the root causes and potentially turn the tide4.

The Situation of Sunday School and Faith Education Programs for Kids
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The Value of Children’s Ministry

Despite the hurdles Sunday school and faith education programs have had to jump, their role in molding the faith of little ones is paramount. Our own study on Ministry-To-Children revealed that childhood is the season of life when most individuals find Jesus, and parents have the most significant influence on their children’s spiritual growth. This highlights the critical importance of nurturing young hearts and minds during this formative stage.

Furthermore, it’s encouraging to note that 64% of children’s ministry leaders passionately agree that churches cannot flourish without an effective children’s ministry. Their dedication to creating impactful programs and providing spiritual guidance to children underscores the belief in the profound impact these programs have on the overall health and vitality of the church community5 6.

Embracing Change

In the face of evolving church attendance trends and the pandemic’s impact, faith education programs have had to be flexible. Some churches have pivoted their attention to Bible studies or small gatherings, while others have transitioned their programs online7. Despite these tests, Sunday school and faith education programs keep fostering the faith of little ones, laying a robust foundation for their spiritual evolution.

To sum up, Sunday school and faith education programs for children aged 5-10 years old have grappled with numerous challenges lately due to shifts in generational attitudes and the COVID-19 pandemic. But these programs remain vital, nurturing the faith of young children and building a firm foundation for their spiritual growth. As churches continue to adapt to these changes, it’s crucial for leaders to prioritize children’s ministry, finding innovative methods to attract young families and bolster their faith development.


Research assistance provided by

New Sunday School Curriculum: Our Bible lessons are designed to keep the kids’ attention and show how God's Word makes a difference. Every series is flexible enough for a wide-age group and affordable enough for small churches. Download a free Bible lesson in pdf or view our latest Sunday School curriculum for small churches.