Growing Sunday School Research, Part 2

Wednesday 18th July, 2007

In my previous entry, I shared that the Georgia Baptist Convention did some Sunday School research entitled Georgia's Fastest Growing Sunday Schools: Ten Common Factors. They sent surveys to the top 50 churches in Sunday School enrollment and attendance gain and had 46 churches complete and return the survey. Keep in mind that all but two churches answered "yes" to seven or more of the questions (common factors).

In Part 1, we looked at the first five of the ten common factors from the research:

  • 98% PROVIDE TRAINING FOR THEIR SUNDAY SCHOOL LEADERS.
  • 96% BELIEVE THAT THE PASTOR'S SUPPORT OF THE SUNDAY SCHOOL IS IMPORTANT OR VERY IMPORTANT TO THE HEALTH OF THEIR CHURCH.
  • 96% ARE OVERCOMING SPACE LIMITATIONS.
  • 91% PRACTICE "OPEN ENROLLMENT."
  • 85% ARE USING AN EVANGELISTIC TRAINING PROCESS OR METHOD.

Here are the second five of the ten common factors (in all capitals) followed by my commentary. Of these churches:

  • 83% ARE CREATING NEW UNITS. "Over half...create new units as a growth strategy." Others "are starting units in response to growth." It takes more leaders and classes to care for more people. New classes help in reaching and in assimilating new people. New classes tend to grow faster and to be more inviting and evangelistic. Teachers and leaders in these churches are trained to apprentice new teachers and leaders and to sponsor new classes.
  • 80% HAVE A WEEKLY VISITATION MINISTRY. These churches averaged one person at visitation each week per two classes--meaning half had more! Visitation still works. Face-to-face contact still connects. Prospects are assigned. An accountability process is in place to check on the visits that are assigned. Relationships often begin when we take the first step.
  • 78% HAVE A PROSPECT LIST. Andy Anderson always encouraged a Sunday School to have prospects equal to their enrollment. These churches had prospects which averaged as many as they had in Sunday School attendance. These are believers or unbelievers who "are not affiliated with or active in another church or Sunday School." These are individuals for whom we have name, address, and phone number. These are persons Sunday School leaders and members seek to get to know, to meet needs, pray with, fellowship with, and invite to Sunday School.
  • 78% HAVE HIGH STANDARDS FOR THEIR LEADERS. In these churches, leaders sign a covenant that outlines expectations (43%); expectations are clearly communicated but no covenant is signed (35%); and expectations are known but not specifically communicated (20%). Another way this is expressed is that 80% of these churches strongly urge or require participation in training. God deserves our best. High expectations produce greater results than low or no expectations.
  • 78% INTENTIONALLY ORGANIZE THE SUNDAY SCHOOL FOR GROWTH. One way they organized for growth was to enlist a team of leaders (they averaged 3/class). These included teachers, care group leaders, secretary, outreach leader, apprentice/co-teacher, prayer coordinator, fellowship coordinator, greeters, etc. Among adult classes, 87% were co-ed, 50% were only loosely age-graded, and 33% were tightly age-graded. Age-graded classes enable prospects to be assigned, guests to be taken, and follow up expectations to be made. Age-graded classes also "provides for affinity, assimilation, and accountability."

Let me remind you, the research made three statements: (1) none of the factors stands alone, (2) Sunday School growth takes work, and (3) each of the participating churches tends to be struggling with one or more of these areas. Like I asked last time, of the second f ive common factors, which are true of your Sunday School? Which one does your Sunday School struggle with most? What step could you take this month to strengthen that factor? Without leadership, little will be accomplished. Pray. Lead. Be revolutionary!

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