This is day 24 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School
It was my privilege, 30+ years ago, to serve as the BSU president at two colleges as well as the president for Georgia. At one of the colleges it became very clear to me that if we were going to increase the involvement of the students, we needed to revamp the leadership structure. I did my homework and made my presentation. We needed to create new positions of responsibility and have different levels of leadership structure. I can still hear the campus minister saying, “But we don’t have that many kids in BSU!” My response was, “I know and that’s why we have to enlarge the organization.” We created the new positions, prayed for those that would take the positions and personally enlisted and trained them. Within one year the BSU had tripled in attendance.
I had learned this basic principle in Sunday School leadership. In 1920, Arthur Flake became the first leader of the Sunday School Department of the Baptist Sunday School Board, which is now called LifeWay Christian Resources. Flake was the author of what eventually became 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.
If your Sunday School is to be the best at outreach, ministry, fellowship and teaching, then it must be constantly enlarging the organization. It should be noted that the organization is to be enlarged prior to the new people arriving! Too many churches have the mentality that they will start new classes and enlist new leaders after the new people show up. It does not work that way! If you wait until the new people come before enlarging the organization then more than likely you will never enlarge the organization.
As we think about enlarging the organization, the first place to start is with the correct number of leaders. You need to determine what your current leader to learner ratio is by dividing the enrollment by the number of leaders. The leader to learner ratio varies for each age group.
Class/Department Leader-to-Learner Ratio
- Babies – Two Year Olds: one to three
- Three Year Olds – Kindergarten: one to five
- Grades 1 – 6: one to six
- Grades 7 – 12: one to eight
- Adults: one to five
The next element of enlarging the organization is to have the correct number of classes. Again, you need to determine your present reality by dividing the enrollment by the number of classes. Each age group is different.
Class/Department Class-to-Member Ratio
- Babies – Two Year Olds: one to twelve
- Three Year Olds – Kindergarten: one to twenty
- Grades 1 – 6: one to twenty
- Grades 7 – 12: one to fifteen
- Adults: one to twenty-four
In conclusion, enlarge the organization prior to new people coming, make sure you have the correct leader to learner ratio and, finally, make sure you have the correct class to membership ratio.
Dr. Tim S. Smith serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Convention and is the Sunday School & Open Groups Specialist of the Sunday School/Open Group Ministries. Visit their website at ssog.gabaptist.org for more information and other resources to aid your Sunday School.