The Distribution of Sunday School Attendance in Kentucky Churches

Tuesday 22nd July, 2008

There are more than 2,400 Kentucky Baptist churches. Of those churches, 2,129 churches submitted a full or abbreviated version of their 2007 Annual Church Profile (ACP). The ACP details statistics in categories such as membership, baptisms and other additions, worship attendance, Sunday School enrollment and attendance, giving, and other church programs. This is also a way to communicate the names and contact information of key church leaders in order for the associational office and state convention to be able to communicate with these leaders.

I have been examining the data of these reporting churches. There are already some pieces of data that I want to share. I am guessing that other data will be discovered and shared later. Let me set the stage before sharing some of my findings. David Francis, director of Sunday School for LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, recently wrote an article entitled Add a Digit to Your Sunday School Enrollment.

In the article, he shared the distribution of Sunday School size in Southern Baptist Convention churches. Of more than 44,000 churches, more than 9,000 did not submit their 2007 ACP. He says fewer than 300 average more than 1,000 in Sunday School attendance (less than 1%). Fewer than 9,000 churches average more than 100 in Sunday School attendance. About 3,000 churches average between 250 and 999 and about 6,000 churches average between 100 and 249.

What is the distribution in Kentucky? Take a look at the table below by average Sunday School attendance. Here is a legend for the abbreviations: SS=Sunday School; Comb=combined; Att=attendance; Enr=enrollment; Wor=worship. What do you see in this table?

SS Att
#/% Churches
Comb SS Att
Comb Enr
Comb Wor Att
SS Att/SS Enr
SS Att/Wor Att
Wor Att/SS Att
1,000+
5/.2%
8,406
16,563
11,869
50.8%
71.9%
139.1%
250-999
99/4.7%
43,227
84,408
57,870
51.2%
75.0%
133.9%
100-249
319/15.0%
48,794
87,498
72,160
55.8%
67.6%
147.8%
50-99
561/26.4%
38,747
66,310
60,756
58.4%
63.8%
156.8%
1-49
1145/53.8%
31,419
48,662
54,088
64.6%
5 8.1%
172.2%


Let me share some quick overall observations:

  • First, like many SBC state conventions, Kentucky is largely made up of small churches. More than 70,000 men, women, boys, and girls attend Sunday School in double digit Sunday Schools. There are more than 1,700 of the reporting churches with fewer than 100 in Sunday School.
  • Second, there are few large Sunday Schools in Kentucky churches (with attendance over 250):  only 104 of the reporting churches with 51,633 in attendance.
  • Third, Sunday School attendance as a percentage of enrollment drops as Sunday School size increases. This means there are more dropouts and less frequently present attenders in larger churches. But it also may mean that smaller churches drop people from their rolls more quickly.
  • Fourth, I was surprised to find that larger churches tend to do a better job of moving worship attenders into Sunday School. The percentage of Sunday School compared to worship drops as the size of the Sunday School drops.
What does it all mean? I don't have more to add right now. I am still studying the data. I like David Francis' suggestion in the article referenced above: help move your Sunday School to the next size. Press toward Great Commission impact. Do you have some observations you would be willing to share? Press the Comments button below and start a conversation. No matter what size church you are attending, give your best effort to God and the people He has gathered there. Be a positive influence. Be revolutionary!

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