Need more space? Consider multiple Sunday Schools as a great way to gain more space and avoid or delay additional building and operational costs. As you consider moving to multiple Sunday Schools, answer the following questions to clarify how, when or if you move to multiple Sunday Schools.
What leaders can best help us prepare for multiple Sunday Schools and/or worship services?
•The pastor’s support from the pulpit is critical.
•Be sure to include several key Sunday School leaders as you move ahead.
•Bring other leaders onboard in phases.
Will we provide identical Sunday Schools or portions of them? Most multiple Sunday Schools are not mirror Sunday Schools. For example, senior adults may largely attend the first Sunday School, but senior adult visitors should have a class option in all Sunday Schools. There may be different offerings for children in different sessions. For example, the first Sunday School may provide for grades 1-3 in one class. The second Sunday School may have one class for 1-2 grades and one for 3-4 grades.
How will we provide for preschoolers at each session? Some of your preschoolers are in the same area during Sunday School and extended session.
How will we project who will go to which Sunday School and/or worship service?
•Conduct a survey.
•The brief survey should give people several choices of options. Sample questions might be:
_____I/my family will attend Sunday School A (print the time)
_____I/my family will attend Sunday School B (print the time)
_____I/my family will attend either session to help provide a good balance.
•Recognize if you are offering multiple Sunday Schools AND worship options, most people choose their Sunday School after they choose their worship option.
•Aim for a good balance–60% attendance in the base Sunday School and 40% in the other Sunday School (if you are doing two Sunday Schools).
How much parking do we have available? You are using the same space twice, but you are likely using the same parking spaces with two sets of people present at one time. You may need to consider some shuttles running to/from nearby businesses or other possible parking areas.
How will we handle choir and other music/worship issues? Most worship leaders have found they can adjust the worship order to accommodate choir and/or orchestra members leaving in an appropriate manner at some point in the service to go to Sunday School.
How can we safely move a large number of people at the same time to/from the same space? Keep all hallways free of tables and other displays to prevent bottle necks. Encourage some classes or groups to enter/exit from an outside walkway instead of going through interior halls. Beginning and ending on time usually help the traffic flow remain manageable.
When will we launch the multiple Sunday Schools and/or worship services? Launch the multiple SS’s on an average day. For example, Easter Sunday may not be the best time for your first day of multiple Sunday Schools.
Regardless of whether you provide multiple Sunday School and/or worship options, insure you focus on the reasons for making these changes. People tend to follow leaders who focus on vision and mission. Keep talking about how multiple use of space can increase your church’s ministry impact in the community and around the world.
Click here to download a more extensive Multiple Sunday Schools handout you may use to dialogue with other church leaders.
Belinda Jolley serves as the Director of the Adult Ministry Office of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Belinda and her husband, Steve, enjoy starting new classes at First Baptist Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina.