I have talked about buckets or pails related to Sunday School previously (see the first five blog posts at the bottom of this post). During the Growing Ministries Tour in March 2011, I shared two Sunday School conferences: Growing by Filling the Bucket and Grow by Plugging the Leaks. Your Sunday School is leaking, and you must continue to fill the bucket with new people to keep attendance the same (and add even more if we are going to make progress toward the Great Commission mandate).
So we must plug the leaks in our Sunday Schools. We must slow down losses by providing more care. At the same time, we must also pray for, invite, care for, and enroll new people in order to maintain and gain attendance. Without the addition of enough new people, attendance will decline.
But there is one more way that Sunday School should consider the metaphor of the bucket. New buckets are needed. Consider the following Sunday School buckets:
- NEW LEADERS. In order to increase attendance, more prayer, care, invitations, and enrollments are needed. One essential way to accomplish this is adding more Sunday School buckets that are new teachers, care group leaders, outreach leaders, and other Sunday School workers. By adding more workers, more care can be provided for those in the class as well as more focus and work provided for those not in the class or church. More workers are needed to start new classes and groups, but more workers are needed in our current classes as well to do the work needed.
- NEW CLASSES. To increase our attendance by 10, Sunday School should add at least one new class. That means to increase by 40, Sunday School should add at least four new classes. New classes provide more care and energy for reaching new people. New classes tend to grow faster and be more evangelistic. This takes teachers and leaders. Apprentice new teachers/leaders and train them. Then let them loose to serve. More sheep pen can hold more sheep, but these sheep pen need shepherds to care for the sheep. More classes will be started when new leaders are trained and released. Pray, apprentice, and let them loose.
- NEW SUNDAY SCHOOLS. Every church should strive to offer Sunday School classes or off-site Bible study groups to reach, assimilate, and disciple the people. Also, Sunday Schools should be offered more times each week. Offer it an additional time on Sunday. Add a session on Sunday night before your worship service. Add another session on another day. Add Sunday School at a nursing home or prison. Add Sunday School at other locations. What is the difference between adding new Sunday Schools on another day or location than Sunday morning at church and the next category (off-site groups)? Sunday School would tend to include separate groups for all ages from preschool through adults.
- NEW OFF-SITE BIBLE STUDY GROUPS. Meet in homes. Meet in apartments and mobile home parks. Meet in businesses. Meet at hospitals, fire departments, police stations, and other community locations. Mobilize your members out into your community. Reach, care, and teach. Share and make disciples. This adds more buckets with very little cost, almost none for space. And since some people are more likely to come to a Bible study group away from church, we can reach different people. This also enables us to reach the 40% of people who cannot attend church on Sunday morning.
If we are going to reach more people to make up for the leaks in our Sunday Schools, we need more buckets. We need more leaders, more classes, more Sunday Schools, and more off-site Bible study groups. By providing these, more care can be provided for more people. More care will result in more attendance, more ministry, more professions of faith, and more workers mobilized into the harvest.
What would you add to these thoughts? Press Comments below to share your ideas. Pray. Plug the leaks. Care for the sheep God has entrusted into your hands. Reach out to more sheep. Pray. Care. Invite. Enroll. Add new buckets. Enlist God-called leaders. Add new classes and off-site groups. And add new Sunday Schools. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!
For more ideas about adding buckets and starting new groups, check out these blog posts:
- Nine Actions for Starting New Sunday School Classes, Part 1 (and other parts)