I mentioned in Part 1 that there are many factors that contribute to Sunday School growth. I have written in this blog about many of them: prayer, expectations, starting new classes, planning, leadership, involvement, and so many more. Without question, one of the factors that is frequently neglected after the first year of life for a Sunday School class is “closing the back door.” I have written many posts (more than 100) about issues of assimilation and have even listed Assimilation in Categories down the right side menu of the blog. Closing the back door is important because classes frequently lose more people than they gain beyond the second anniversary of the class.
So what can a Sunday School class do to maintain its passion? What can a class do to be sticky–attract and keep guests and new members? I was reminded about four factors needed to be a sticky class by an article entitled The Big 4. In Part 1, I shared the first two of four factors listed in the article. In Part 2, I will share the final two factors in all capitals followed by my commentary:
MINISTRY INVOLVEMENT. People who get connected through serving together with others are less likely to leave. One reason is that relationship connections happen–more on that below. Find a place of service in your class for every member (and even guests). Put someone in the class in charge of seeing that every class member has a place of service in the class or the church. Enlist people to serve as class greeters (check out Revolutionary Sunday School Classes Have Greeters and Helping Sunday School Guests FEEL Welcome), care group leaders, name tag dispensers (check out Be Revolutionary! Wear Name Tags in Sunday School), secretary, fellowship leaders, outreach team, classroom set up crew, ministry responders, prayer team coordinators, etc. Discover members affinities and encourage and let them loose in pursuing their passions. You might even lead all class members to discover their spiritual gifts and/or S.H.A.P.E.
RELATIONSHIP CONNECTIONS. In my doctoral research, I discovered that if a class member attended three or four Sundays each month, they tended to have six or more friends that “they could call on in time of need.” If they had two or fewer friends, they tended to drop out of class. Relationships are important. Monthly times of fellowship and ministry projects can encourage interaction and deepen relationships. Interactive teaching methods can also help, even icebreakers (check out Nine Reasons to Use Icebreakers in Sunday School/Small Groups, Using Icebreakers Purposefully in Sunday School/Small Groups, and Five Suggestions for Using Icebreakers Well in Sunday School/Small Groups). Care group leaders who call members, absentees, and prospects also can develop connections (check out Care Groups: Prayer, Ministry, Assimilation, and Invitation). Men sometimes prefer projects rather than socials as means to develop friendships.
How is your class doing in closing the back door? Think about the last two people who joined your class. Are they still connected? What can you do to raise expectations and to make your group “small” in its attention to attenders? Add these two factors with the two factors from Part 1 (high expectations and small groups), and decide on an action plan for your class. Don’t let one person slip through the cracks. They need the class. The Kingdom needs their involvement. Be sticky! Be revolutionary!