Initial Reflections on Sunday School Survey Results, Post Script

Thursday 10th February, 2011

In the previous posts of this series, I have shared some interesting results of a recent Sunday School survey, highlighting some of the differences between growing and declining Sunday Schools. I shared statistical data in the first five posts (links are listed below), and I summarized my comments in Part 6 and Part 7. In this post, I will share some statistical confirmation and summary results.

Like muscles in a cast, it is amazing how fast it is possible to lose what you have not used. Prior to working on my dissertation, I had a course in statistics. I became conversant with a variety of types and uses of statistics. I learned to use a specific statistical software. But it has been eight years, and I have had no occasion to use that software since that time. And besides, that software is in a box in my attic along with dissertation surveys and materials. (By the way, there is a lesson here about setting aside good Sunday School practices even for a while.)

Anyway, I had to relearn some statistics and had to learn how to use Microsoft Excel in order to use those statistics since Excel was the format for my data. But I believe the time was well-invested. I want to share survey statements that showed up as significant when running an analysis of variance (ANOVA) test. I won't share the statistics, since few will understand them. Some may want to know that the Alpha for the ANOVA test was .05. For researchers and statistical buffs who want to see the data, email me and I will send you the Excel file.

Here are the survey statements/questions (followed by answers) which showed up as statistically significant using the analysis of variance (ANOVA) test:

  • Are name tags used in your Sunday School? (No; Yes, in younger classes; Yes in some classes; Yes, in most classes; Yes, in all classes)
  • Most Sundays, the church parking lot and available street parking during Sunday School is... (Almost empty; Half full; Almost full; Full)
  • Compared to the official starting time, most classes in my Sunday School tend to start the first class activity (announcements, prayer, teaching, etc.). (On-time; Late; Early)
  • Classes in my Sunday School are... (Only loosely age-graded; Only younger classes are age-graded; Largely age-graded; Organized by method beside age-grading)
  • When I think of space in my current Sunday School classes, most classrooms are... (Mostly empty; About half full; Mostly full; Full)
  • In my church, there is this amount of available (unused) Sunday School classroom space: (No unused rooms; 1 or 2 unused rooms; Several unused rooms)
  • Teachers in my Sunday School arrive early to pray, prepare the room, and greet attenders. (Not true in any classes; True of some classes; True of most classes; True of all classes)
  • My Sunday School average attendance is... (Less than last year; Same as last year; A little more than last year; A lot more than last year)
  • The total number  of classes (preschool, children, youth, and adult) in my Sunday School is... (Less than last year; Same as last year; A little more than last year; A lot more than last year)
  • My church offers Bible study classes away from the church AND/OR at another time than Sunday morning: (None; 0-5 groups; 6-10 groups; More than 10 groups)
Of these statements, I have previously shared all of these statement except for the first one about name tags. Since more than 91% of growing and declining churches answered "No" to the question, I had not shared it.

From these data, it appears that growing Sunday Schools (1) use name tags a bit more frequently; (2) have less available parking; (3) start classes closer to on-time; (4) are more age-graded; (5) have fuller classrooms; (6) have fewer available (unused) rooms; (7) have teachers who arrive early to pray, prepare the room, and greet; (8) have more attendance this year than last; (9) have more classes than last year; and (10) are more likely to have classes away from church and/or at another time than Sunday.

Which of these are cause/reason and which are effect/result? Name tags might be both. Parking lot is likely effect. On-time and age-grading are likely cause. Fuller and fewer classrooms are likely effect. Teachers arriving early, more classes than last year, and classes away from church are likely a cause. More attendance than last year is likely an effect.

Sunday School growth impacts the church and community. Strive for effective use of the tool of the Sunday School to help the church in carrying out the Great Commission. Be revolutionary! Fore more ideas about growing your Sunday School, check out previous blog posts in this series as well as others below:

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