In Part 1 of this series, I examined Sunday School age group (enrollment) statistics for the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. I wondered out loud whether there was an ideal balance more likely to be present in a growing church.
In Part 1B, Growing Versus Declining Sunday School Attendance, I examined Sunday School attendance statistics from 1,588 Kentucky Baptist churches who reported for each of the years of 2001-2006. There I noted how many churches had grown or declined by at least 2% per year for a five-year period and those that had grown or declined by at least 10% per year.
Then in Part 2 of this series, I looked at the differences in age distribution (Sunday School enrollment) between growing churches and declining churches. There I made three quick observations:
- higher percentages of preschoolers and children in growing churches,
- higher percentages of adults 55+ in declining churches, and
- higher percentages of youth in growing churches except those with more than 200 in attendance.
I want to take one more look in a fresh way at the age group statistics I shared. Instead of looking at seven age groups and four church sizes for growing and declining churches, I will simply present three age groups for all size churches. What do you see in this table?
Examined this way, it is easy to see that there are more preschoolers, children, youth, as well as young and median adults (8.1% more) in growing churches and more adults 55+ (8.1% more) in declining churches. Does that mean it is bad to have more senior adults? No! Does that mean that a church with more younger ages will grow. Not necessarily. To some degree, younger ages are a reflection of reaching people in the community.
More is needed to understand what these numbers mean. That is why phase two of this project will require survey and interview data from a sampling of these churches. Stay tuned because phase two will take quite a while! In the meantime, pursue people in your community that are missing age groups in your church. Love them into relationship with your Sunday School class. Love them to Jesus. Be revolutionary!