Have you looked around Sunday School lately? When you look around, what do you see? Who is there? Who is missing? A broader question to consider periodically is this one: what age group is missing? I have seen it in churches I served. I have seen it in churches of all sizes across the state.
Perhaps you have a good class of older children, but you have a gap in younger children (or it could be youth). I was in a church today that has a gap under age 3 and another gap in older children and younger youth. Then there was also a gap in younger adults.
What can you do to fill those gaps? What can your Sunday School do to pursue persons in age groups in which you have small or no attendance? Awareness is an important step. Unless someone stops to look around and realize the situation, little will be done. While every situation is different, there are some common steps that I want to suggest. Consider the following:
- Pray for God’s leadership. Pray that God will give you and others in your Sunday School the passion to pursue those in your community who could fill those gaps. Pray for the Holy Spirit to go in advance of your efforts to contact and invite individuals in your community.
- Evaluate. Annually stop to count the number of people in each age group. Are there similar numbers throughout all the age groups? (With adults, it may help to count the number in each decade: 18-29, 30-39, 40-49, etc.) Is the balance healthy? Are males and females somewhat in proportion to what is represented in your community?
- Do a demographics study of your community. Many state convention offices and NAMB offer this service for free. Check to see if there is a similar age group gap in your community. (Only rarely will this be the case.)
- Share what you discover. Do so with your Sunday School leadership, members, and church as a whole. Call them to prayer for efforts to reach those in your community who fall in the gap.
- Enlist any in the gap who attend Sunday School. This would include those who regularly or irregularly attend. Ask them to pray for and pursue their age group. Ask them for names of prospects in their age group. Ask them to help you start a new class for that age group. Call on them to help you form a leadership team to pursue the age group.
- Check the church and Sunday School membership. Look for persons not enrolled in Sunday School or not attending Sunday School who fall in the age range of the gap. Begin praying for these individuals. Make contact. Share your concern. Ask them to join you in prayer for reaching that age group. Ask them to help you reach the group. Ask them to help you start a new class for that group. (When you have 3 or 4 couples or 7-8 individuals who are committed to help you start a new class, launch it; that means you need to enlist a teacher early.)
- Check the current Sunday School prospect list. Look for the names of any individuals in the age range of the gap. Make contacts with them inviting them to help you to pursue their age group and to help you start a new class.
- Ask the congregation to submit names of prospects.Prospects would include (friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors) who fall in the age range of the gap. Place cards in their worship bulletins or in the pew racks. Take five minutes at least once each month to call the congregation to prayer for the age group and to complete a card with the name and as much contact information as they can offer along with the name of the person submitting the name (for follow up q uestions you may have).
- Publicize and offer special events for that age group.Offer door prizes/drawings if they will complete a registration card. Pass out/post flyers where the age group is likely to be. Ask the whole church to extend invitations th roughout their neighborhoods.
- Start a small group Bible study. Enlist someone close to the age group to lead a group. Invite people to a home or site away from the church. Offer the study for a set time period (for instance 6 weeks). A couple of weeks before the study is scheduled to end, ask the group if they would like to stay together/study another topic.
What other steps have you found helpful in reaching an age group that your Sunday School wishes to target? Press the Comments button below to share your experiences, ideas, or questions. Look around. What do you see? To whom is God sending you? Go after them. Many are waiting. Be revolutionary!