Would You Like to Double Your Sunday School Space?

Monday 5th March, 2007

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There are many concerns voiced by pastors and Sunday School leaders around Kentucky. One heard frequently is the need for additional Sunday School teachers and leaders. It is important to pray for, seek, personally enlist, and train God-called teachers. It is also important to begin an apprenticing process immediately--this may not pay immediate dividends, but Sunday School is worth investing in for the long-term.

A second question heard frequently is the need for additional Sunday School space. A few years ago, I was called to conduct a space evaluation for a medium-sized church built over 30 years ago. After I walked through the space taking note of which age groups of what size met in each space, I noticed something. All of the large department-sized spaces were used by classes, but hardly any of the smaller classrooms at the back were being used. In fact, they had accumulated chairs, drama props, hymnals, and a pack-rat collection of everything seldom or never used in a church.

When I pointed the small classrooms out, the Sunday School leaders acted like they had forgotten they were even there. They immediately said they were too small, but I suggested removing the nonload-bearing walls between each two spaces. Next, they were not sure what they would do with the "junk," and then they did not know if they had the money to do the minor renovation. With their eyes opened, however, they realized they had quite a few potential Sunday School classrooms which could be made ready.

Another church in the eastern part of the state invited me in for the same reason. As we walked through the space, the pastor and I talked through each potential place in which a class could meet. He had not considered the choir room, the library, a couple of smaller spaces, the sanctuary, or the fellowship hall. I shared with him that the sanctuary or fellowship hall could be used by one class or by three or more but should not be used by two since three or more will drown out one another's sound better. This allowed his Sunday School to start several new classes while they prepared to build some additional space.

These ideas work in many churches. For some, they can lead to doubling classroom space. Others may need to consider an additional option:  dual Sunday School. Why not offer Sunday School before and after worship? My favorite time to attend Sunday School is after worship--it is amazing how many times the Holy Spirit is at work in the sermon and the lesson. This might be Sunday School at 8:30, Worship at 9:45, and Sunday School at 11:00. This allows attenders to come early and leave early (8:30-10:45) or sleep in and come late (9:45-Noon). Both of these options give a whole hour for Sunday School which can really help a class to have additional teaching and fellowship time (if previously only 45 minutes was allowed).

If worship space is also getting tight, why not offer the flip flop schedule:  Sunday School and worship at one hour followed by Sunday School and worship the next hour.  This could be 9:45-10:45 Sunday School/Worship and 11:00 Sunday School/Worship. Both of these options "almost" double your space. Now, why would I say "almost"? Because most churches offered Extended Teaching Care of preschoolers during worship anyway, so all of the space for the second session of Sunday School was not empty. Still, this can greatly aid many churches to utilize the space they already have with very little additional cost (perhaps a little more utlities for lights and/or heating/cooling).

Some fear that dual Sunday School will require twice as many leaders. But churches only need to offer about half as many classes for each age group in each hour of Su nday School. Some churches will ask classes to choose which hour to attend or to allow Sunday School leaders to choose for them--trying to balance both hours as well as possible. This is what my church recently did to provide more classroom space. More of the teens and parents of teens are in the second hour than in the first, but otherwise the space is fairly well divided. And now there are empty classrooms available in both hours. The church also took the opportunity to start a couple of new classes.

I know many readers have experience with dual or multiple Sunday School. Share your suggestions. Share your stories. Help others who will read this blog entry to feel confident they can do it. Press the comments button below and share your experiences. Let's start a conversation! Multiply leaders, space, and units! Be revolutionary!

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