There are many factors that impact whether Sunday School grows or not. I want to focus on five factors that are absolutely critical. On which of these critical factors does your Sunday School need to focus first?
Prayer is the first of the critical factors. The work of making disciples of all nations is a spiritual enterprise. It was commanded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We cannot do this work alone (without Him or without each other). Prayer and Bible study are our way of listening to and communicating with God. Prayer brings us into agreement with our Lord’s agenda and moves us into action. Sunday School is weak when it tries to operate without prayer. Set aside regular times to pray individually and corporately about Sunday School. Each of the next four factors should be accompanied with prayer.
CONSISTENT CARING CONTACTS
In John 13:34-35, Jesus commanded us to love one another and told us that the world will know we are His by our love for each other. Our care should spill over into the world. The second of the critical factors is caring contacts with members, absentees, and prospects (people not enrolled in our classes) matter. When we contact members, we deepen the velcro of relationships and lessen the likelihood they will drop out. When we contact absentees consistently, we express our care and concern and increase the likelihood they will return. When we contact prospects regularly, we show our care and interest and increase the likelihood they will come to our fellowships, projects, and class sessions.
The third of the critical factors is that Sunday School cannot grow without new members. We will lose members to death, moves, etc. And people will become irregular through grief, sickness, job changes, and more. It is essential that each class pursue their assigned people group (the group they are best designed to reach). We develop relationships with people along life’s path and invite them to become part of our classes. One simple way is asking if you can add them to your class fellowship, prayer, and ministry list. If they ask what that is, you tell them it is the list of people you invite to your class parties, pray for, and care for in time of need. Who doesn’t want to be added to that list?
Workers is the fourth of the critical factors. A span of care of 1:5 (one worker for every five in attendance) tends to result in increased attendance. More people providing more care results in more attendance by members, absentees, and prospects. So if you want to increase your attendance in your classes, increase the number of workers in the classes. Every class should enlist someone to lead the class in member care, outreach, and greeting. If the class is large enough, adding someone to lead the class in prayer, mission, and fellowship can continue to strengthen the care and attendance. These leaders don’t do all the care. They model and lead the class to care.
New classes is the fifth of the critical factor because they tend to reach more new people. New people often prefer to join new classes rather than break into existing relationships. These classes help us target people group gaps. And new classes naturally provide additional workers for even more care in the Sunday School. Don’t split classes to add more classes. Instead enlist a seed group of 2-5 people to help start a class. Enlisting too many to help start a class makes reaching new people less likely.
RATE YOUR SUNDAY SCHOOL
On a scale of 1 to 20 (with 20 being excellent), rate your Sunday School for each of these factors. Add up your score for all five factors. If your score is below 60, you will tend to struggle with consistent growth. Focus on the two factors receiving the lowest scores. Gather a leadership team. Pray. Evaluate. Identify priorities. Set goals and make plans to improve. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!