Sunday School Growth Spiral

Friday 8th December, 2006

In Genesis 19, we see God sending two angels to save Lot and his family. When judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah can no longer be postponed, the two angels took Lot, his wife, and his two daughters by the hands to lead them out.  In verse 19 (NIV),one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" (1) Lot and family needed to flee from the evil influences. (2) They needed to avoid longing for the past and their possessions, or else like Lot's wife risk getting stuck there. (3) They needed to pursue a goal (the mountains) in order to be successful.

Revolutionary Sunday School needs to understand the angel's instructions. (1) We must look and avoid unproductive activities and practices. (2) The enemy of the best is the good. We need to not get satisfied or stuck in the old thinking. (3) We must pursue goals in order to accomplish everything God wants. Revolutionary Sunday School seeks God and His leadership. Revolutionary Sunday School evaluates what has been done and works toward even greater effectiveness. But revolutionary Sunday School also must be purposeful and balanced in pursuit of healthy Sunday School growth.

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Following thirty years pastoring growing churches, Andy Anderson served for seventeen years as church growth consultant for the Baptist Sunday School Board (now called LifeWay Christian Resources). During that time, he put together a system that has helped pastors and church leaders to evaluate, predict, and prepare for church growth through effective, balanced, intentional Sunday School work. That proven step-by-step method is called The Growth Spiral. Consider the following elements of this system:

  • Spiral.  What if you set goals for your Sunday School, and then you divided those goals into quarters for your whole Sunday School, for each age group, and for each class? The goals could then be bite-sized rather than elephant-sized.
  • Enrollment.  Set a God-sized enrollment goal. What if your goal was an increase of 40. That would be 10 per quarter.  If you had 10 classes, that would be a goal for each class to increase by 1 person in enrollment.
  • Prospects.  Through research, Andy realized that a growing Sunday School needs to work toward developing a list of prospects that is the same size as the enrollment list.
  • Teaching Units.  Through research, Andy discovered that the best size class enrollment for growth was between 12 and 18. New units are needed in order to assimilate growth.
  • Workers.  Again through research, Andy realized that the entire Sunday School needed a ratio of 1 worker for every 5 in attendance to be in a growing stance. Workers include teachers, outreach leaders, department/division directors, pastor, educational staff, Sunday School director and secretary, and adult care group leaders.
  • Workers Meeting Attendance.  Andy believed in accountability through a weekly workers meeting at which 75% or higher attendance of workers was expected in order for growth.
  • Training.  He believed every worker needed training every year, and each year there shoul d be an increase in numbers trained.
  • Space.  New classes need to be started for every 20 enrolled. This means new space must be sought, prepared, and provided annually. We must plan ahead or risk slowing growth.
  • Contacts.  For growth, contacts by visit, card/letter, or call need to equal or exceed half of total enrollment each week. These contacts should be with members and prospects.
  • Outreachers.  For growth, at least one person from each class should make home visits to prospects each week.
  • Attendance.  Attendance ranges between 40 and 60% of enrollment. Attendance below or above that range signifies the need to deal with problems. Enrolling 40 new people will most likely result in an attendance increase of around 20.
  • Worship Attendance.  Numbers in excess of 10% more in worship than Sunday School meant that Sunday School needed to do a better job of caring for and reaching out to people, especially new people.
  • Offerings.  Usually when attendance increases, so does giving. There is often a per capita increase that can be tracked.
  • Baptisms.  He discovered that only 1 out of 342 lost persons accepted Jesus in 12 months if they were only in worship while 1 out of 3 did if they were in Sunday School.

Pray. Evaluate. Set goals. Provide the support system for the goals to be effective. Watch what God does through you. Join Him in leading your Sunday School to be revolutionary!

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