Archive for Flake’s Formula – Page 2

Outreach: Just Do It!

When it comes to outreach, the advertising slogan, “Just Do It” comes to my mind. Consider these principles and ideas for outreach.  Identifying potential class members and securing contact information is essential. But unless you actually do some kind of outreach, all you have is a list of names.

  • Plan for Outreach – Outreach will never happen consistently unless you lead your group to plan for it. Planning should include who, when and the specific outreach activity.
  • Variety is the Spice of Outreach – The who, when and what of outreach should rotate regularly to keep outreach fresh. Contacts made  in person are most effective, but also learn to make good use of phone calls, e-mails, texting, mail, or even Facebook and Twitter. (See some suggestions below.)
  • Involve as Many Members as Possible – Harry Piland, a former Director of Sunday School for the Baptist Sunday School Board, stressed this approach by explaining, “Divide the work of a Sunday School class into do-able hunks, then
    give each person one hunk.” There is no better area to apply this principle that in outreach.

Invite them to Bible Study – This is the simplest and most direct form of outreach. The ideas below can help you develop a relationship with potential members and make ongoing contacts that are “nonnagging.”

  • Vacation Bible School Follow-upAlways make a follow-up contact with boys and girls and their parents that are prospects who attended VBS. Idea: during VBS planning schedule a VBS outreach evening or Saturday morning the week after VBS. Go in teams of 2-3 to make a quick doorstep visit and leave a memento of VBS (a VBS Music for Kids CD or deliver a picture made during the week). Be sure to include information about your church and Sunday School.
  • Be Part of a Church-wide Community Event – Block party, Easter Egg Hunt, Parents Night Out, etc.
  • Time Change Reminder – Make quick phone calls, to both prospects and members, to remind them to change their clocks in the spring and fall. Leave a voice mail if no one answers, identifying yourself and your church.
  • Happy Birthday Wishes – If you have a birthdate, send a “Happy Birthday” card, text, or phone call.
  • Party Invitation – Invite the prospective member to your class social. Offer to pick them up or meet them at the event so you can go in together and introduce them to others.
  • Work Invitation – That’s right! Invite them to join your class in a work project, such as serving meals at a shelter or raking the yard of an elderly person.  Many of today’s adults and teens are attracted to helping a worthy cause. While working, they also get to know others in the group and feel more comfortable with them.


Marie Clark has served as team leader for the Bible Teaching & Discipling Team of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists since 1996.

Everyone Needs a Class!

Bad Lessons run off more people than good outreach programs can bring in. You will literally kill your church visiting if all you ever visit is Chronic Absentees. If you’re not enrolled in Sunday School, you ain’t got no class! Enrollment is the most important statistic in the church.

These were just a few of the snappy little sayings by Andy Anderson. Everyone needs a class, but If you’re not enrolled in Sunday School, you ain’t got no class! It is so powerful to hear someone share how a class of people ministered to them in their time of need and brought them to Jesus. In September of 2006, I arrived at my classroom to find a message from the pastor on the marker board: Pray for Beth Smith. I had no clue that Beth was sick. On Saturday, I had chaperoned the High School Band to a Band Contest and we returned at 2:00 in the morning. Both of Beth’s daughters were in the band. When they arrived home, Beth had responded to them. Beth’s husband, Chuck, was accompanying a terminally ill boy on a Elk hunt as a part of an organization like Make a Wish. The next morning Beth was very lethargic and was rushed to the hospital. The majority of the members of Sunday School class spent that day and Monday morning with Chuck, Jordan and Jessica at the hospital. Beth never came out of the diabetic coma that she was in and died on Monday afternoon. During the next few days, our class took the lead and ministered to the family and continued to do so to this day. That experience led me to the conclusion: That my desire is that every Tennessean would have a Sunday School class like mine to minister to them in a time of need.

Andy is shouting from the grave: If you’re not enrolled in Sunday School, you ain’t got no class! Sunday School leader do you understand the importance of enrolling people in Sunday School? In my opinion, every church member should be a member of a Sunday School class. After someone has been won the easiest and most efficient way to assimilate them is a Sunday School class. In fact,

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Thom Rainer’s, President of LifeWay Christian Resources, research indicates that if we get someone connected to a Sunday School class or small group that 85% of these people will still be connected to your church 5 years later, compared with only 15% of those who only attend worship. Join me in believing that every person needs a class.

As a young minister of education, Andy convinced me that enrollment is more important than baptisms, church membership, and attendance. He would declare, “Enrollment is the most important statistic in the church.In fact, I agree with my friend Bob Mayfield who says, enrollment is the forgotten factor in evangelism today. Churches are dropping people from the rolls instead of adding people to the roll. When your enrollment increases, your attendance increases. When you enroll lost people, your baptisms increase. When your enrollment increases, your offerings increase. When your enrollment increases, your membership increases. A pastor from West TN recently took the Power Up Your Sunday School Challenge and his church enrolled 41 new members in 7 weeks and the attendance grew from 80 to 120.

Daniel Edmonds, the State Sunday School Director in Alabama, has a great definition for enrollment. He says that enrollment is a covenant making, attendance increasing, relationship building, evangelistic opportunity. Everyone needs a class that will enter a covenant to pray for them, to love them, to minister to them, to challenge them in their spiritual journey. But if they’re not enrolled in Sunday School, they ain’t got no class.
Mark Miller, State Sunday School Director, Tennessee Baptist Convention

Space for the Kids

The most important areas in a church building are the Sunday School rooms for the preschoolers and children.  Some might want to argue that point, but it’s important that the kids ministry area be top quality.

This is the area of the church that should be well-equipped and should “shine” as you enter the area.  When young families with children come to the church for the first time, they are evaluating the preschool and children space as they drop their children off for Sunday School and for preschool care during worship times.

Unfortunately some churches allow these areas to become cluttered, outdated and are placed in less than convenient areas of the church educational facilities.  Don’t let that happen.  Lead your Sunday School ministry to make preschool and children’s space a priority instead of an add-on.

There are several reasons for doing so.  Here’s a list of a few:

  • Preschoolers and children need more space than youth and adults (it is recommended that preschool rooms have 35 square feet per child and children’s rooms have 25 square feet per child).  This may seem like a lot, but preschoolers need room crawl and toddle around.  Children are active and need some space to move and do activities during Sunday School teaching times.
  • Parents are taking note.  If it’s not clean or updated, they probably won’t feel comfortable leaving their children in that room.  Make sure the floor coverings are clean and modern.  Have bright lighting and colorful painted and decorated walls.  Check the safety of the furnishings and equipment.  In recent years there have been new federal safety guidelines issued for baby cribs so make sure the cribs meet these standards.
  • If the preschool and children’s areas are in an inconvenient place or not near the worship center, consider doing a swap with other age groups.  With the exception of the senior adult classes (which should also be on a main level near the worship center) you could possibly arrange for adults or youth to be further away or on other levels of the facility.  Parents want their children fairly close by and they like the ease of dropping off children soon after they enter the building, so try to have preschool/children rooms in convenient areas.
  • It’s about the kids!  When Sunday School ministry started in the late 1700’s in England, it was a ministry for children.  Don’t forget the kids.  When children come to Sunday School, it is often an easy step or two to also reach their parents.

If you need to review the safety and security of your kids ministry facilities, here’s a link to a document  you can download.


Richard Nations is the Church Health Team Leader at the Baptist Convention of Iowa.  Reach him at

Provide Space and Equipment for Sunday School Growth

This month, we have been sharing five areas of Sunday School growth that have become known as Flake’s Formula: (1) know the possibilities, (2) enlarge the organization, (3) provide space and equipment, (4) enlist the leaders, and (5) go after the people. In today’s post, we will examine how important it is to “provide space and equipment” in order to allow Sunday School growth to take place. Consider these ways and reasons to provide space and equipment:

  • ENOUGH ROOMS. In Is the Size of Your Sunday School POT Keeping You Small, Part 1 and Is the Size of Your Sunday School POT Keeping You Small, Part 2, I shared this idea from Ken Hemphill in The Bonsai Theory of Church Growth: “You must keep the pot small to keep a bonsai small, and in a similar way many churches keep the church and Sunday School small because they keep the facilities small.” In order for your Sunday School to grow, you must have space available in which to start new classes. This can include using the space more than once and even using off-site space.
  • ENOUGH SPACE. Adults and teens need about 12-15 square foot per person. Children need 25 square foot. Preschoolers (due to activity level) need 35 square foot. When attendance approaches 80% of capacity of the room, growth will slow or stop. Moving classes to rooms of appropriate size to allow for growth is essential. Also, when a class reaches or exceeds the space’s capacity, it is time to start a new class.
  • ADEQUATE SPACE. There are many issues to consider in making sure that the space you provide for classes is adequate, such as appearance, location, usefulness, safety, cleanliness, noise, and more. Check out Conduct an Adult & Student Sunday School Space Walk for a set of questions from which you can evaluate your adult and youth space. When possible, locate preschool and senior adult space close to worship space.
  • ADEQUATE EQUIPMENT. What is needed by each age group is appropriately different. Certainly chairs and tables (if needed) should be of the right size for the assigned age group(s). It is important to provide the equipment and furnishings needed while taking into account the space available and potential attendance. As attendance begins to approach 80% of capacity, as much equipment and furnishings as possible should be removed making more room for people.
  • TOO MUCH EQUIPMENT. Too often classrooms fill earlier than necessary due to too much equipment and furnishings in the space. Tables are often the biggest culprit. People are more important than tables. Removing tables to have space for more people is more important that coddling people’s preferences (to hold coffee and Bibles and cover short skirts). Sometimes more chairs are in the room than are necessary. Only one or two more than expected attendance should be kept in the room. In fact, it can be depressing to enter a room with 20 chairs and only 3 attenders, while it can be exciting to have to set up one or two more chairs.

Make sure you plan ahead. Don’t get to a place where you need to start a class but lack the space, furnishings, and equipment needed. Anticipate needs. Plan ahead. Expect to grow.

For more ideas about Sunday School space, check out these blog posts:


Darryl Wilson has served as Director of the Sunday School Department for the Kentucky Baptist Convention since 1997. He served as Minister of Education in five churches in Kentucky and South Carolina. He is the author of The Sunday School Revolutionary!, a blog about life-changing Sunday School and small groups.

Add Supporting Leaders as you Grow

In starting a new adult group, one could begin with as few as one or two leaders. Numerous classes have been started through the years with a willing teacher and a list of prospects. On the other end of the spectrum, some start classes with a much larger number of leaders and members. Wherever you are on the spectrum, do not miss the opportunity to add supporting leaders as you grow.

Arthur Flake in his book, The True Functions of the Sunday School, speaks of the Sunday School as the employment agency of the church: “With proper executive leadership any Sunday school in any church can be so organized that a place of useful, joyous service may be made for every member of the church (42).” Flake even responds to those who say we should not rush people into a place of service; “It is false reasoning to say that they cannot serve until they have grown in Christian experience. Jesus used the twelve when they were yet immature (32-33).” Giving people an opportunity to discover and grow into the good work for which they have been created is not being “pushy” (Ephesians 2:10).

I co-authored a book with Dr. Lawrence Phipps, Growing Sunday School TEAMS, in which we demonstrated how to help people discover their place in the Body of Christ through “building Bible study groups in the church.” The invitation is for everyone to discover their place on one of the TEAMS. A modern picture of the Body of Christ is a team of people with a variety of gifts, talents, and abilities coming together to accomplish a mission. The five major positions are Teaching, Evangelism, Administration, Ministry, and Service. A variety of roles are available in each position to enable every member an opportunity to grow and serve. Each position should provide “entry-level tasks” so that new members can serve. I have posed the question to leaders, “If a non-believer began to attend your class, would there be an opportunity for that person to serve?” Watching people come to know Christ because they served in a mission project alongside believers who shared their faith is a true joy.

As you add supporting leaders, you are allowing people to take a “baby-step” toward a life-time of service in the Kingdom. These supporting leaders will have the opportunity to grow into the key leaders of the near future.

Arthur Flake said, “As it was in New Testament times, so it is today. In all our churches we have capable people of varied gifts and talents who, if enlisted and trained, will be able to do valiant service for Christ. Let us see how all these may be utilized in a practical way through service in our Sunday schools (34).”
Daniel Edmonds, State Missionary, Office of Sunday School & Discipleship, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.