What does Dr. Seuss have to do with God?
But for Seacoast Church’s 14 campuses, reading “Green Eggs and Ham” over hip-hop instrumentals isn’t supposed to be religious. It’s designed to get students laughing, which clears the way for ministry.
The Dr. Seuss hip-hop event will highlight the church’s September Custom One Night, a monthly gathering where sixth through 12th-grade students play games, laugh and learn about Jesus.
“If we can get teenagers laughing, walls will fall down,” said Jon Hohm, pastor of Seacoast's student ministry.
The rap battle is one of several creative themes that local churches are using to kick off the school year. Last September, the One Night theme was “rep your school,” where students wore their school colors and T-shirts.
Charleston County students returned to campuses Monday. Churches typically use the start of the school year to re-engage families who missed church for beach getaways and leisure time on the boat.
The Rev. Caleb Lee at Grace Church Cathedral said the church attendance was about 200 less in the summer than it was the Sunday before schools opened.
This was the same for Seacoast, where the church’s Kidscoast ministry hosted about 650 children in July before spiking to 850 in August.
For church-goers, attending back-to-school bashes and re-enrolling in Sunday school are ways to get back in the routine of church on the weekends and school during the week.
“The culture is used to not coming to church during the summer,” Lee said. “They associate Sunday school with going back to school.”
Royal Missionary Baptist Church's youth department used “Wakanda Forever” as its pitch to re-engage students. The church held a film festival during its back-to-school rally Aug. 18 where teenagers drew from the Marvel blockbuster to produce movies with a message.
One group’s film told the story of a young lady isolated by her classmates until the popular guy in school stood up for her. Another group featured "girls in STEM" where a female championed her all-girls group to a robotics championship.
For children and teens preparing for another school year, it’s important for Sunday school and youth programs to bring relevant messages.
“We believe that everything in the Bible has practical application,” said Royal Baptist member Cleo Brown. “If it doesn’t make any sense to you — what you’re learning in Sunday school and how it applies to real life — we’ve defeated our purpose.”
First Scots Presbyterian Church, which suspends Sunday school classes over the summer to give families the chance to travel, will resume after Labor Day with a church-wide theme of “Feeding the Flock: Spiritually and Physically.”
Grace Church Cathedral operates Sunday school year-round. The church kicks off the beginning of the Sunday school year with an open house in August. This includes a blessing of the book bags where clergy pray and give each student a Jesus fish key chain for the start of the school year.
These August events give children an opportunity to reconnect with friends and classmates. Northwood Church in Summerville runs a weekly Royal Rangers program for boys in grades K5 through 12. Jacob Evans said this was a great chance for his son to reconnect with old friends before starting first grade on Monday.
“During the summer time, they only play with certain friends," Evans said. "The back-to-school things are reuniting them with their friends they didn’t see over the summer."