Changing Sunday School Measurements, Part 2

Sunday 4th May, 2008

In Part 1, I mentioned the need to change some of the measurements being made in our Southern Baptist Convention churches. While our current Annual Church Profile (ACP) has strength in its historical comparison, there is a need for it to change. In Part 1, I mentioned three reasons: (1) it is too long and fewer churches are completing the ACP, (2) the ACP does not capture the way ministry has changed over the years, and (3) there is a need to change what is being measured.

I mentioned the title of an article by Josh Hunt that captures the essence of this need to change: Whatever Gets Measured Gets Done. In Part 1, I summarized Josh's article in this statement: It is essential that we keep score, but there are measurements that are essential to address long before being worried about the final score. Over the years, most churches have simplified reports of progress merely to counting heads (attendance) in Sunday School and worship. And therein lies the problem. When essential contributing efforts toward Sunday School success are not measured, they don't get done.

What are some essential contributing efforts toward successful Sunday School that need to be measured? I want to challenge you to begin measuring the following (some will require changing how we collect data):

  • CONTACTS. These are made by face-to-face contact/visit, phone, card/letter, and e-mail. These include invitations to Sunday School and ministry/care contacts. These establish, build, and maintain relationships. Contacts with members reinforce assimilation efforts and attendance regularity. Contacts with prospects lead to relationships, class visits, and enrollment. Years ago, most churches stopped using the six-point record system that recorded contacts. Since that time, contacts have been made irregularly.
  • GUESTS PRESENT. This is still recorded in many class and Sunday School attendance records. Some even record guest contact information. But little or nothing is done with that information. Frequently, there is not even an effort by the class to follow up with the guest. And if an initial follow up contact is made with the guest, there is no plan for contact beyond the first visit. "Guests present" is an important indicator of contacts being made with prospects, of invitations being extended to those outside the class. Enrollment will be less likely to grow when contacts are not made and no guests are present.
  • LOST ENROLLMENT. Only persons who have died, moved out of the ministry reach of the church, or have joined another church should be removed. Every guest who attends should be invited to join. Since attendance averages about 40-60% of enrollment, increasing enrollment will result in increased attendance. At the same time, it is essential to enroll lost persons in Sunday School since an average of one out of three who attend Sunday School will accept Jesus each year. (This is a number that should be tracked privately.)
  • BAPTISMS. This  is a celebration of what God has done in the life of the individual. But this is not the end of the investment. New Christians need encouragement and help in learning to run the race well. It is a mark of spiritual progress and an id entification of the need for an Encourager to walk beside him/her.
  • DAILY DEVOTIONS. Sunday School classes for children, youth, and adults should teach attenders how to pray and how to meet God in personal, private Bible study daily. Most classes do fine teaching corporate prayer and Bible study. This emphasis along with accountability could revolutionize disciples, classes, Sunday School, and the church.
  • APPRENTICES TRAINED. Every teacher should be training and pouring themselves into an apprentice. Every adult class teacher should be preparing his/her class to start another class, and the key to this happening is having an apprentice ready. That way the apprentice can either start the new class or take over the current class while the teacher starts the new class.
  • NEW CLASSES STARTED. Every adult class should have as its goal to start another cl ass. That keeps the focus off of self and onto God and making disciples of all nations. On average, two classes can reach and care for more people than one can. New classes tend to be more evangelistic and grow faster than existing classes.
  • PERSONS IN SERVICE. Another goal for every adult class is to have every class member involved in service in the class, the church, or the Kingdom. People who are serving are touching more lives, using what is learned in Bible study, and are more fulfilled. They are more likely to stay connected to the class and church and more likely to continue growing as disciples.
What additional Sunday School measurements would you suggest? Why would you add them? What would happen in your Sunday School if you started measuring these things and keeping their measurements in front of your teachers and workers? What would happen if you spent time in planning meetings and training sessions emphasizing the importance of these measurements? What would happen if you called your Sunday School leadership to prayer around the pursuit of people that these measurements represent? Stop wondering, and start praying, measuring, and acting! Be revolutionary!

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