Sunday School Practices Survey Results by Growth, Part 3

Tuesday 3rd February, 2009

In Part 1, I asked if there are differences between growing, plateaued, and declining Sunday Schools? What if those differences could be identified in a survey and growing churches were affirmed for those practices and reminded to continue their good work? What if plateaued and declining churches were able to examine practices which if addressed might release the power of Sunday School growth for these churches?

In Part 1, I began sharing results from an online survey which had over 200 respondents but only 71 completed the entire survey. The results shared in this series are from complete surveys. In Part 1, I shared five practices: training, visitation, Sunday School greeters, good records, and contacts. In Part 2, I shared five more practices: new classes, name tags, high attendance day, setting goals, and praying for Sunday School.

In Part 3, I will share four practices: pulpit invitations, special event registration, available classrooms, and space in classrooms. In the survey, respondents were asked to identify whether their Sunday School attendance was more than last year (growing), the same as last year (plateaued), or less than last year (declining).

FROM THE PULPIT, MY PASTOR INVITES PEOPLE TO SUNDAY SCHOOL . . .

RESPONSES Growing Plateaued Declining
Can't remember when
12.0%
19.2%
 20.0%
Once or twice
16.0%
15.4%
5.0%
From time to time  
40.0%
34.6%
70.0%
Monthly
4.0%
7.7%
0.0%
Every week
28.0%
23.1%
5.0%

INSIGHTS:  There are two quick glances which show some differences. Add together the bottom two invitation frequency responses (every week and monthly), and here are the totals: growing (32%), plateaued (30.8%), and declining (5%). And scan the top invitation frequency response (can't remember when), and here are the totals: growing (12%), plateaued (19.2%), and declining (20.0%). Growing Sunday Schools appear to have pastors who more frequently invite people to Sunday School from the pulpit. For ideas about pulpit promotion of Sunday School, check out these blog posts: Pulpit Sunday School Promotion, Focus on Worship AND Sunday School , Promotional Tools for Sunday School: Don’t Keep It to Yourself!, and When Pastors Attend Sunday School/Small Groups, It Is Contagious!.

WHEN MY CHURCH HAS SPECIAL EVENTS (LIKE VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL, FALL FESTIVAL, REVIVAL, ETC.), GUESTS ARE ASKED TO COMPLETE A GUEST CARD AND REGISTRATION INFORMATION IS SHARED WITH SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES . . .

RESPONSES Growing Plateaued Declining
No
16.0%
19.2%
20.0%
Yes, sometimes
36.0%
38.5%
45.0%
Yes, always
48.0%
42.3%
35.0%

INSIGHTS:  While percentages are not dramatically different, the differences among those who responded "Yes, always" may indicate that growing Sunday Schools are more likely to register guests during special events and share that information with Sunday School classes. Here are the numbers: growing (48%), plateaued (42.3%), and declining (35%). For ideas about Sunday School taking advantage of special events, check out these blog posts: 5 Goals for Sunday School Growth This Year, Focusing on Prospects for Sunday School, Prospecting for Sunday School Prospect Gold, and How to Fill those Sunday School Age Group Gaps.

WHEN I THINK ABOUT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSROOM SPACE . . .

RESPONSES Growing Plateaued Declining
No unused rooms
44.0%
46.2%
35.0%
1 or 2 unused rooms  
28.0%
38.5%
25.0%
Several unused rooms
28.0%
15.4%
40.0%

INSIGHTS:  From a glance across the top of the table (no unused rooms), it appears that declining growing and plateaued Sunday Schools are more likely to have reached their space limits (the container is limiting the size of the plant). Here are the numbers: growing (44%), plateaued (46.2%), and declining (35%). For all churches, it is essential to be creative and intentional in providing space to start new classes. For ideas about creative classroom space options, check out these blog posts: Creative Places for Sunday School Classes and Small Groups to Meet, Revolutionary Adult Sunday School Classroom Space, Is the Size of Your Sunday School POT Keeping You Small, Part 1, Is the Size of Your Sunday School POT Keeping You Small, Part 2, Assigning Sunday School Space to Preschoolers and Others, Would You Like to Double Your Sunday School Space?, and Do You Have Enough Sunday School Space?.

WHEN I THINK OF SPACE IN CURRENT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES, MOST CLASSES ARE . . .  

RESPONSES Growing Plateaued Declining
Almost empty
0.0%
42.3%
5.0%
About half full
36.0%
7.7%
75.0%
Almost full
60.0%
46.2%
15.0%
Full
4.0%
3.8%
5.0%

INSIGHTS:  Which Sunday Schools classrooms are closest to capacity (full or almost full)? Here are the numbers: growing (64%), plateaued (50%), and declining (20%). That means that growing churches must be even more creative in starting new classes, moving classes to rooms that best fit and allow growth, and anticipating space needs. For ideas about making more classroom space and starting new classes, check out these blog posts: Why It’s Best Not to Use Tables in Sunday School Classes, Nine Actions for Starting New Sunday School Classes, Part 1, Nine Actions for Starting New Sunday School Classes, Part 2, Nine Actions for Starting New Sunday School Classes, Part 3, Which Builds the Kingdom Faster: Sunday School Addition or Multiplication? , Is It Time to Start a New Sunday School Class?, What to Name a New Adult Sunday School Class?, Each One Start One: Off Campus Bible Studies, Your Sunday School Class Can Reach Hundreds in Ten Years, and Ways to Add Adult Sunday School Classes by Dividing Them into Age Groups.

Where is your Sunday School? Do you have more, the same, or less in attendance this year? Evaluate your Sunday School. Which of the above practices could use some attention? What could you do to strengthen that practice? What's the first step? Who should be responsible? Check out the previous ten other practices in Part 1 and Part 2. Invite from the pulpit. Register guests at special events. Provide additional space. Make sure to check out Part 4 and Part 5. Be revolutionary!

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