In Part 1 of this series, I began expanding on a post I wrote four years ago entitled Sunday School Growth Spiral. In that post, I shared elements from Andy Anderson’s book, The Growth Spiral. In Part 1, I reviewed spiral goals. In Part 2 and Part 3, I looked at enrollment and prospects respectively. Today in Part 4, I will look at teaching units.
Andy referred to teaching units, workers, workers meeting attendance, and training as quality goals. The more teaching units (classes) you have, the more workers you have to provide care and make contacts and plans for the class. That certainly adds quality to the work of the Sunday School. But from my experience, I can also say that adding new classes also is a factor that impacts quantity. New classes tend to grow faster and reach new people better.
In a post entitled Is It Time to Start a New Sunday School Class?, I shared some relevant new class statistics:
- On average, a new class will grow to 10 in attendance and 20 in enrollment in 12-18 months.
- On average only 1 out of 342 lost people will accept Jesus as Savior in 12 months if they attend worship only while 1 out of 3 will accept Jesus as Savior in 12 months if they attend Sunday School (according to Andy Anderson).
- After 5 years, we will only find 16% of church members who don’t join Sunday School while we will be able to find 83% of those who are active in Sunday School (according to Thom Rainer).
In Andy’s book, The Growth Spiral, (which granted was printed in 1993) he said the numbers for growth of a new class are even better: “On average one new teaching unit will increase the enrollment by twenty-three in twelve months, provided the unit is properly supported by the leadership.” That would result in twelve in attendance–in twelve months! Andy does add an interesting qualification to his statement: “If the new teaching unit is for adults, chances are that enrollment will increase more than twenty-three. If it is a youth, children’s, or preschool class it will be less than twenty three.”
Andy wisely points out the value of small units and the reason why they grow faster. He says:
Sunday School is not merely a teaching organization. It is also a ministering organization….Ministry is the key to Sunday School….the best ratio is an average of one teaching unit for twelve to eighteen people enrolled….At this size they are large enough to be healthy, yet small enough to grow.
Do you want to grow? Then I recommend dividing your total Sunday School enrollment by eighteen. What is the number? How does it compare to the number of your classes? If the number is higher than the number of classes you have, you need to start more classes. If the number is lower, you may be in a strategic position to grow (as long as the number is not below your enrollment divided by twelve).
Classes can be started for any age group. They can be started in the church building or away from the church building. They can be on Sunday or another day of the week. Don’t let tradition limit your thinking and ministry. If more classes will reach and care for more people (as long as you support the new unit properly by leadership), then be creative about doing so!
One final thought: the key to starting new classes is having leaders ready and trained. Apprenticing is the best way to do so. Prepare leaders, and turn them loose. Pray. Start new classes. Contact. Care. Befriend. Fellowship. Invite. Enroll. Watch what God does through you. Watch as classes grow. Watch as lives change. Be revolutionary!