Rules of thumb are not laws but are standards which have proven reliable. There are several rules of thumb that apply to Sunday School. During this series, I have shared these two reliable standards:
- Part 1, One of every five classes should have been started within the last two years.
- Part 2, The younger the age group, more classroom space is required per person.
In Part 3, I will share another Sunday School rule of thumb:
For Sunday School to grow, the worker to attender ratio should be 1:5 or better.
MORE THAN SURVIVAL. Let’s look at why this is important and how this can be accomplished. The reason that this rule of thumb is essential in order to grow the Sunday School is one word: care. In order to care for more people, it takes more people. Often there is a worker shortage and a care shortage. Many Sunday Schools survive on worse ratio that are 1:6, 1:7, 1:8, or even worse. But notice I said, “survive.” None of them are growing. In order to care for the sheep God has entrusted to you (members and prospects in your people group), it takes more than the minimum.
What happens in most classes without a 1:5 or better ratio is that member care and/or outreach are neglected. Without a good ratio, the class and teacher have difficulty ministering to and meeting the needs of members. People drop out (die, move, have job schedule changes, get sick, etc). At the same time, people who drop out are not replaced with lost and unenrolled people. Visits and contacts are not made. Invitations are not extended. New people are not enrolled.
In a busy week, the teacher (too often alone) cannot keep up with everything. He or she has to focus on the lesson and member care and outreach get neglected. The teacher needs the help of a member care leader and an outreach leader to lead the class to meet member needs while at the same time focusing on those in their people group who are not yet members of the class.
ADDING WORKERS. So adding workers to existing classes is one way to improve the attender to worker ratio of Sunday School. Workers in adult and teen classes would include teachers, apprentice teachers, secretaries, outreach leaders, member care leaders, greeters, and others. In smaller classes (2-4 attenders), the responsibilities of these workers would be covered by fewer people until the class grows enough to have separate leaders. In larger classes, additional leaders and apprentice leaders will be enlisted or continued growth and care will slow and stop. In preschool and children’s classes, additional teachers and helpers will be enlisted and responsibilities will be assigned to ensure good member and prospect contact and care.
STARTING NEW CLASSES. Another way to improve the attender to worker ratio is to start new classes. New classes add more workers and tend to reach new people. New classes also must work to enlist workers to assist the teacher with member care and outreach as the class grows. Starting classes is essential when space begins to fill in any age group.
CALCULATING YOUR RATIO. Add up all your Sunday School teachers and workers. Include your teachers, apprentice and substitute teachers, outreach leaders, secretaries, member care leaders, class greeters, Sunday School director and secretary, and other Sunday School workers. Then divide your average Sunday School attendance by your total number of workers. For instance if you are averaging 50 people and have 8 workers, you will divide 50 by 8. The number you will get is 6.25. That means your ratio is 1:6.25 and should be improved by enlisting more workers.
God and His people deserve our best effort. God has entrusted them into our care. Begin now to pray for and enlist additional caregivers to join you in growing the Sunday School. Make disciples. Enlist and train workers. Be revolutionary!