Is the Size of Your Sunday School POT Keeping You Small, Part 1

Tuesday 11th March, 2008

A number of years ago, Ken Hemphill wrote a great book entitled The Bonsai Theory of Church Growth. I would recommend all pastors, staff, Sunday School leaders, and church leaders interested in growth to read the book. Anyway, one of the principles of the book is that you must keep the pot small to keep a bonsai small, and in a similar way many churches keep the church and Sunday School small because they keep the facilities small.

I was asked to walk through a church's educational space today. The church is in the midst of seeking direction and making plans for the future. The church staff wanted me to evaluate the space and give them suggestions for how to maximize its use and to consider possible implications for dual use for Sunday School. Their awareness of so many issues will be very helpful as they guide those they lead and help the church to make wise decisions.

The church has an average of 52% of worship attendance in Sunday School each week. They are concerned about how to get more of them involved in Sunday School. I addressed the gap as a positive challenge rather than a problem. It is a challenge that needs to be addressed now and into the future. Some of the suggestions I offered included the following:

  • have the pastor regularly invite worship attenders to get involved in Sunday School;
  • launch new classes and promote them regularly in worship;
  • set up what Josh Hunt (in You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less) calls zone offense (getting all adult and youth classes to divide responsibility for sections of the sanctuary among class members to befriend guests and invite them to Sunday School);
  • set up pew section captains (greeters) whose job is to get to know the people in his/her section of pews (many members will sit in the same seats each week, so it will be easy to spot the guests after a few Sundays); and
  • increase expectations--require every person who joins the church to complete a new member class and to become active in a Sunday School class.
How are you doing in getting worship attenders to move into Sunday School? How many of the list have you tried? Look for ways to get every new member and as many guests as possible into a class. In Part 2, I will share the rest of my experience in that church and some of my facility observations. Don't allow your Sunday School POT (space) to limit what God wants to do to reach your community! Be revolutionary!

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