David Francis, Sunday School Director for LifeWay Christian Resources, wrote an article for Baptist Press entitled Reaching Sunday School Goals. David begins the article by saying, “There is one irreducible law of church growth: start new units.” In the pursuit of that starting new units, he encourages awareness of three numbers as you set goals for Sunday School growth: three, five, and ten.
Allow me to summarize what he said about each of these numbers and to add my own commentary. Be aware of these numbers as you start new units:
- THREE. David wrote a great booklet entitled The 3D Sunday School. In that booklet, David shares one way that THREE is important–in the three dimensions of a Sunday School strategy to fulfill the Great Commission. The three dimensions are what we want class members to do: invite, discover, and connect. He says each class needs one leader responsible for each area. Thus, THREE stands for the dimensions and the leaders needed in existing classes and new units.
- FIVE. David says each of these three leads can “develop a relationship with and minister to about FIVE members.” I tend to call this care group leaders. And I tend to include prospects in my suggested span of care. I usually suggest that one leader can care for three members and three prospects. If we contact members and guests and encourage them, pray for/with them, and invite them to fellowships, members won’t drop out and prospects will want to become members. With this span of care, three leaders could care for 15 to 18 members and/or prospects. All classes, especially new ones, need to be intentional in their ministry, outreach, and fellowship efforts.
- TEN. On average a new class will grow to twenty in enrollment and ten in attendance in 12-18 months. The way David said it is this: “Each time you start a new class based on the principles above, it will usually increase the attendance in your Sunday School by 10.” Want your Sunday School to grow by 20+? Start two new classes based on these principles–that would include at least 6 leaders who each care for five members (or 3 members and 3 prospects). Want to grow by 50? Start five new classes—that would include fifteen leaders each caring for five members.
Starting classes without appropriate goals and work will produce frustration. Release new leaders with a healthy understanding of the actions necessary to successfully launch the new units. Enlist and deploy at least THREE leaders per new unit. Keep the span of care low (FIVE) in order to provide quality care. Start new classes regularly to reach and care for more people (TEN). Be revolutionary!