Sunday School Rules of Thumb, Part 5

Thursday 23rd October, 2014

Rules of thumb are not laws but are standards which have proven reliable. There are several rules of thumb that apply to Sunday School. During this series, I have shared these four reliable standards:

  • Part 1, One of every five classes should have been started within the last two years.
  • Part 2, (a) The younger the age group, more classroom space is required per person. (b) When a classroom nears 80% of capacity, growth will slow or stop.
  • Part 3, For Sunday School to grow, the worker to attender ratio should be 1:5 or better.
  • Part 4, For Sunday School to add one person in attendance, two people should be enrolled.
In Part 5, I will share another Sunday School rule of thumb:
For ideal Sunday School growth, average attendance should be about 80% of worship attendance.

Some reading this rule of thumb will disagree. Hear me out first. The key word in this rule of thumb is ideal. This rule of thumb is not saying it is impossible for Sunday School to grow if your percentage of worship attendance is higher or lower. But there are advantages for keeping the percentage close to 80%.

Let's look at the percentage as a gauge of good Sunday School work. What does it mean when the percentage of worship attendance is higher, and what does it mean when it is lower? Consider the following:

  • Higher Percentage (81-100%). Having a percentage of worship attendance that is higher may mean that Sunday School classes have invited and enrolled all the low-hanging fruit. That sounds good, doesn't it? But it also means that Sunday School could have enrolled even more people if there were more new worship attenders. On the other hand, the higher percentage may be a sign that change in worship has not been handled well (worship attendance declined but Sunday School attendance stayed stable). Perhaps the pastor or worship leader left. Thus, when the percentage is higher, it could be a sign that church and Sunday School leaders need to get aggressive in community invitations.
  • Lower Percentage (50-79%). Increasing attendance in worship is a good thing. But when the percentage of worship attenders in Sunday School begins to drop, it may be a sign that Sunday School is not doing well (1) starting new classes and (2) inviting and enrolling worship attenders. It may also be a sign that Sunday School is not being promoted by the pastor. Or it may be a sign that teachers need training in understanding why and how to reach out. Adding and training additional workers can also increase prayer, care, and invitations.
Whether your percentage is higher or lower, the point is that you want to maintain a growth posture. And your percentage is giving you clues to actions which are needed in order for growth to continue.

Check your percentage regularly. If you are not good with numbers, ask for someone's help. Then get your growth team together to assess current reality and address needs and opportunities discovered. Make disciples. Be revolutionary! For more ideas about Sunday School growth, check out these blog posts:

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