Understanding the Community Around Your Sunday School

Sunday 11th May, 2008

Who are the people in your community? What are they like? What do they like? Are most of them married or single? Are most of them younger or older? Have they completed high school or college? Are they higher or lower socioeconomic level? What would be the best way to reach them?

Sometimes a church will have a perception about their community that it is a reflection of the church. The reality is that there are often differences. And it is important to note the differences in order to be effective in reaching the people surrounding the church. Some churches stopped reaching out to young adults years ago and now have no young or middle adults and therefore no preschoolers, children, or teens.

How can you find out about your community? I want to suggest checking out the North American Mission Board's article entitled Demographic Reports. The article is clear: "Your community is changing every day as the people that live within it also change." On that web page, you will find information about a report that any Southern Baptist Convention church can request from NAMB. If you are a part of a Southern Baptist church, you can log in here to access the Request Form. The form you will complete to request the report has four sections:

  • Section 1: contact and location information needed to generate the report and send it to you
  • Sections 2-3: choose and enter data for only one section about the areas of the demographics
  • Section 4: additional comments

An even fuller report is available with even more data and a consultant provided by phone at no cost to help you understand the report. In response to your request, you will receive by e-mail a link to a PDF file with data about your community. It can take one to three days to proces your requqest. When you receive the PDF document, you may choose to print it out to share it with others. The web page warns that you may need to be patient in opening the report due to internet speeds and the amount of maps, etc.

After receiving a report like this, it is often good to take stock of the church body. What is the percentage of males versus females? What is the age distribution of the Sunday School? What is your best guess of the distribution of income and education levels of the congregation? What is the percentage of married, divorced, single persons in the congregation? How do these congregational demographics compare to those in the community?

Then, it is important to pray through how to respond to what you discover. What does God expect? What does He want? Evaluate. Identify needs. Choose first and/or most important steps. Pray for and target real people! Set goals. Make action plans and assignments. Do it. Go after them with the love of Christ! Check on progress. Adjust. Don't give up! Be revolutionary!

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