In Part 1, I mentioned that, Ken Hemphill wrote a great book entitled The Bonsai Theory of Church Growth. One of the principles of the book that I shared is that you must keep the pot small to keep a bonsai small, and in a similar way many churches keep the church and Sunday School small because they keep the facilities small.
I was asked to walk through a church’s educational space to help a church staff as they seek direction and make plans for the future. The church staff wanted me to evaluate the space and give them suggestions for how to maximize its use and to consider possible implications for dual use for Sunday School. Here are some of my observations about their space:
- The church had lots of restrooms throughout the facility–a positive.
- Parking spaces are adequate but starting to get tight (though they have been granted access to 60 spaces in a nearby business lot)–need to start addressing this by asking leaders to park in the nearby lot and enlisting parking lot greeters.
- Hallway space and doorways in parts of the building (including the newest part) are a bit narrow for flowing both directions (from worship to Sunday School and from Sunday School to worship)–this is a negative but may be able to be addressed some with some minor renovation and greeters to route foot traffic.
- The schedule is too tight currently, but if they move to a flip flop schedule (9:00 worship and Sunday School and 10:30 worship and Sunday School), there will be more time between sessions–that would be a positive.
- One issue is both positive and negative. They have lots of perschoolers–that is positive. The negative is that they are crammed into space adequate for 50% of the current number. Preschoolers need 35 square foot per child.
- The church needs to move some adults out of their rooms to provide more preschool and children space. While we identified a few smaller spaces around the facility that are currently not being used, the move to give preschool and children’s Sunday School more classrooms will likely necessitate using a fellowship hall for multiple adult classes (perhaps with partitions on wheels)–while this is a bit of a negative, many adults are willing to do what is needed for preschoolers and children.
- The church’s current indebtedness is being cared for out of the annual budget (but the speed of the paying off the loan may need to be addressed through a capital campaign). The size of the loan means they cannot consider another building campaign any time soon. This means they have to consider other options for continuing to provide space so growth can continue to occur–since this limits options, this would be slightly negative.
- They have done dual Sunday School before with the flip flop schedule which has positive and negative baggage. Some of the baggage may have come previously by rushing the transition to duals (perhaps 6 weeks rather than a preferred 6+ months)–that there is some negative baggage makes this issue a bit negative.
- Worship space (currently they are in the before and after schedule: worship Sunday School worship) is in plentiful supply for both sessions–that is a positive.
For more information about Sunday School space issues, check out these blog posts:
- Assigning Sunday School Space to Preschoolers and Others;
- Revolutionary Adult Sunday School Classroom Space;
- General Sunday School Space Issues: Welcoming Guests;
- Conduct an Adult & Student Sunday School Space Walk;
- Would You Like to Double Your Sunday School Space?; and
- Do You Have Enough Sunday School Space?.
These are but a few facility issues to address in helping Sunday School to be able to continue to grow. Let me challenge you here. Print out this blog entry. Read back through what I have written, and write down how your church is doing on each of the issues in the margins. Give yourself a plus or a minus by each issue. How many of each did you identify? Remember, if even one of the issues is a negative, it will likely lead to your grow th slowing or stopping. Talk with key leaders now about how you can change those negatives into positives. Plan to grow. Be revolutionary!