In this six-part series, I have shared five steps toward Sunday School growth that have become known as Flake’s Formula: (1) know the possibilities, (2) enlarge the organization, (3) provide space and equipment, (4) enlist the leaders, and (5) go after the people. In Part 1, Flake’s Formula for Sunday School Growth: Know the Possibilities, I examined the first step, “know the possibilities” in five contexts: spiritual, church body, church facility, community, and century. In Part 2, Flake’s Formula for Sunday School Growth: Enlarge the Organization, I shared about enlarging the organization in these ways: pray and dream big, organize for the next stage, add more workers, start new classes, and reduce the span of care.
In Part 3, Flake’s Formula for Sunday School Growth: Provide Space and Equipment, I focused on what it means to “provide space and equipment” for Sunday School growth in five areas: enough rooms, enough space, adequate space, adequate equipment, and too much equipment. In Part 4, Flake’s Formula for Sunday School Growth: Enlist the Leaders, I focused on ways to enlist the leaders needed for a growing Sunday School: do previous steps first, enlist properly, provide training, coach to success, and apprentice to stay ahead. In Part 5, I will focus on what the previous steps prepared for: going after the people. Because of the number of actions, this post will be divided into two posts. In Part A, I will look at these actions:
- PRAY. We do not need to ask God if He wants us to go after the people. Jesus has already commanded it in the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19-20). But we can ask him to bless our efforts, to use us to accomplish His will, to send us to people who will response, and to help us to reach out and invite in ways that will bear fruit. We should pray while setting up our efforts to go after the people. And we should pray while pursuing the people.
- ESTABLISH PROSPECT ASSIGNMENT SYSTEM. This is important. Many Sunday Schools lack a prospect list or system. (See MIA: Sunday School Prospect List). A system is broader than a list, but a list is an essential part of the system. The best system will include a method for (1) gathering the names and contact information for a master prospect list, (2) assigning the prospects to an age-appropriate class list, (3) assigning contacts for class members to make with prospects, (4) reporting results of contacts, and (5) making adjustments to the master and class lists.
- GATHER PROSPECT NAMES. The goal is for every class to have prospects on their class list equal to or exceeding the enrollment of the class. That means that the prospect list should grow as the class grows. That means the list never becomes impossible to contact/care for because the class grows as it grows. But as the class grows, the network of friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors of class members will also naturally grow. (Prospects who become members will also know prospects!) If a class needs additional prospects beyond their current list, the class can do a community survey or the church can enter into an emphasis in which the church will pray for and submit the names of prospects in an age group for a m onth or longer.
- ESTABLISH CONTACT/VISITATION SYSTEM. There are many ways to set up a contact system. In preschool and children’s classes, contacts with prospect families will tend to be made by the teachers or others who have been enlisted to help. In youth and adult classes, someone will need to take the lead. This can be care group leaders or a class outreach leader. These persons will make the contacts themselves or assign them to youth or adults and call for a report the next week. Contacts will naturally include those on the prospect list, Sunday School guests, and worship guests (the latter two sets will often find their way to the class prospects list if they are local). Visitation still works. Each class should be represented weekly for visitation. See Effective Sunday School Visitation and Foundational Pillars of a Sunday School that Grows, Part 10 for more ideas.
Through research, the Georgia Baptist Convention has found that 80% of its growing churches have weekly visitation and 78% have a prospect file. That is fairly convicting evidence for the importance of the fifth step of Flake’s Formula: go after the people. Also, 91% of their growing churches practice “open enrollment.” In other words, they “enroll anyone, anywhere, at any time as long as the person agrees.” “They make it easy to get on the Sunday School roll and difficult to be removed!” (More on enrollment in Part B— the sixth part of this series.)
In Part B of this post, I will look at the final four actions for going after the people: communicate the enrollment system, invite guests to fellowships/projects, enlist greeters, and follow up all guests. Pray. Prepare for Sunday School growth and then go after the people. Expect God to work in people’s lives. Expect people to come. Expect growth. Be revolutionary!