In a publicity piece of another denomination, they ask, "What difference does Sunday School make in reaching and keeping people in church?" Study after study has shown the effectiveness of Sunday School in both of these areas. Dr. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, has done much research prior to going to LifeWay which has affirmed these facts. For instance, a new member who becomes active in Sunday School is more than six times more likely to still be involved in church five years later. In research by Andy Anderson, he found that a lost person was more than 100 times more likely to make a profession of faith in 12 months if they are active in Sunday School.
The publicity piece I mentioned earlier, lists seven reasons to invest in Sunday School today. Allow me to take their reasons and apply them to our churches. The reasons in all capitals are from the publicity piece and the commentary is mine:
- SUNDAY SCHOOL IS THE MOST WIDESPREAD MINISTRY. You can find Sunday School in more than 95% of Kentucky Baptist churches. While it is true that mall groups are a common alternative for new church starts when they cannot afford construction or rent, many provide Sunday School as soon as they are able to provide space. Very few churches have no Sunday School or small groups. No other church ministry is as widespread.
- SUNDAY SCHOOL DISCIPLES MORE PEOPLE. After worship and the pastor's sermon, Sunday School disciples more people than any other ministry in the church. In fact, numbers nearly exceed those discipled through Discipleship Training, Music, WMU, and Baptist Men combined.
- SUNDAY SCHOOL IS BIGGER NOW. I had to check out the statistics myself. While Sunday School enrollment in the Southern Baptist Convention has been stuck around eight million since 1990, attendance has set all-time records almost yearly since 1999. How is this possible when attendance in so many churches has declined? There are more churches than ever before.
- SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHES EVERY PERSON AT HIS LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING. One of the geniuses of Sunday School is that each age group is taught at his/her level: preschoolers, children, and youth as well as youth, middle, and older adults. Classes are organized by age group. Curriculum is provided which has been designed for age groups. Teachers are trained to be effective in teaching their assigned age groups. This leads to greater effectiveness in communicating for understanding and life application.
- SUNDAY SCHOOL APPEALS TO THE LEAST CHURCHED GENERATION. To quote the publicity piece, "According to George Barna, only 14% of Generation X consider themselves to be born again. Yet according to Newsweek, 81% of all mothers and 78% of all fathers 'plan to send their young children to Sunday School or some other religious training." Many trust the ministry name, "Sunday School." We must mobilize our Sunday Schools to reach out to Generation X and their children!
- SUNDAY SCHOOL HAS MOBILIZED MORE CHRISTIANS THAN ANY OTHER MINISTRY. Sunday School classes reach out to meet the needs of members and prospects. Sunday School leads members to be involved in ministering to needs on a regular basis. Sunday School encourages people to find a place of service in the church or community. Classes take on mission projects by praying, giving, and going. More are mobilized through Sunday School than through International, North American, and state missions combined.
- SUNDAY SCHOOL HAS HUGE POTENTIAL FOR MOBILIZING CHRISTIANS FOR EVANGELISM. On average, one out of three persons who have made no commitment to Christ who are active in Sunday School will make a profession of faith in 12 months. When classes invite unchurched, uncommitted people to Sunday School, lives are changed. What a great army of God! I agree with the publicity piece when it says, "Let's make Sunday School a place they want to bring their friends."