This is day 23 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School
At the first church that I served as a staff person, we enlisted a relatively new church member as our Sunday School director. He had come from a larger church in a nearby town and had success in leading a growing Sunday School. He approached his new role with confidence and enthusiasm, implementing several new ideas into the ministry. One of them was to organize and promote a high attendance day with a goal – that he came up with on his own – of having 300 people in attendance.
The big challenge was that the church had never in its history had a Sunday with 200 in attendance let alone 300. Unfazed, our Sunday School director held to his lofty goal. When the big day arrived, the actual Sunday School attendance was the highest the church had ever had . . . yet, there was disappointment at having “failed” to reach the goal. Knowing the actual possibilities would have helped our Sunday School director set a goal that was challenging yet attainable, offering him the opportunity to motivate leaders, create momentum, and celebrate a victory.
Knowing the possibilities helps Sunday School leaders set goals and chart a course for growth both in the short and long term. Here are some sources of information that will assist in this endeavor.
Census data reveals raw population numbers and other descriptive pieces of information. But a demographic report can also reveal trends and changes in types of families in your area, population based on proximity to your church, and even religious affiliation of homes near your church. Your state convention may be able to not only provide this type of information, but help you interpret and apply it to your Sunday School grouping strategy.
SS Class Rolls
Conducting an annual examination of your class rolls will also help understand possibilities for growth. Knowing not only how many have fallen out of regular attendance but also who they are and what life stage or family make-up they represent will give you clues toward what new groups need to be considered in your Sunday School organization.
Unique Attenders per Month
While we regularly calculate average Sunday School attendance, one often overlooked piece of information is the number of different people that attend Sunday School in a given month. For example, a class that averages 20 in attendance likely does not have the same 20 every week. In fact, the class may have 30 different people that attend at least once a month. If half of the marginal attenders are more intentionally connected to and cared for by the class to the point that their attendance increases to 2-3 times per month, the average attendance will increase proportionately. When this happens, other fruit such as personal spiritual disciplines, service, giving, and
witnessing are more likely to increase as well.
Prospects and Potentials
A final group that helps define the possibilities are those in the past year who have been guests
in worship services, attended special events, had children in Vacation Bible School, had students involved in youth ministry, or were connected through a community ministry. David Francis also suggests encouraging classes to make lists of their FRANs (Friends, Relatives, Associates, and Neighbors) as a way of identifying those who have a relational connection to people already in Sunday School. This list gives classes a great start in conducting intentional outreach.
Arkansas Baptist State Convention