Perhaps you have heard someone object to organization in a church by saying that it is too mechanical and is not a spiritual approach. Several years ago, Max Caldwell countered that argument by simply explaining, “Organization is putting ourselves in the best possible position to be used by God.”
Before you organize, you must first know the purpose. If you want to utilize the full potential of having a Sunday School, plan to go beyond just teaching Bible knowledge to teaching for changed lives. This kind of Sunday School has a two-fold purpose: (1) to lead people to Christ and (2) to help Christians grow through living out the Great Commission.
The big challenge is how to help this purpose happen. Writing the purpose on a sheet of paper doesn’t make it so … or publishing it in the church newsletter … or on the website … or just saying it.
Here is the help you need to begin acting on your Sunday School’s purpose: ORGANIZATION!
Take a look at these two critical elements of organization. Consider how each one can help your Sunday School better reach people for Christ and help members grow as Christians.
- Grading – Graded classes mean that each class has a specific group of folks they will seek to reach, teach, and minister to. The most common grading principle, especially for kids and teens, is by age and/or school grade. For example, in a smaller church, one class may be designated for children in grades 1-6, while a larger church may have a separate class for each grade. Adults are often grouped by age, such as young adults or senior adults. Some churches choose to organize adults by life stage, such as newlyweds, parents of teens, or retirees.
Purpose/Benefit – Age-graded classes recognize that…
- People naturally gravitate towards those with whom they have something in common.
- Classes know who they are responsible for reaching.
- It is easier to teach those who are in Sunday School when they share similar needs and life experiences.
- Size of Classes – When classes become too large, the learning environment, reaching and assimilating new members, and meeting ministry needs may suffer. In smaller churches, “over-organization” may result in groups so small that both teachers and learners become discouraged. In both instances, attendance and participation can be affected negatively. Below you will find some sound leader-to-learner ratios that have proven to be effective for each age group when developing the age-group organizational structures.
Purpose/Benefit – “Right-sized” Bible study units…
- Allow greater learner participation
- Ministry needs are more easily identified
- Absentees are easier to note so people don’t fall through the cracks
|Meeting Space Specifications Chart|
|Age Group||Space per Person||Maximum Enrollment||Room Size||Leader:Learner Ratio|
|Babies||35 sq. ft.||12||420 sq. ft.||1:2|
|Ones-Twos||35 sq. ft.||12||420 sq. ft.||1:3|
|Threes—Pre-K||35 sq. ft.||16||560 sq. ft.||1:4|
|Kindergarten||35 sq. ft.||20||700 sq. ft.||1:5|
|Grades 1-6||20-25 sq. ft.||24||120-144 sq. ft.||1:6|
|Grades 7-12 (class)||10-15 sq. ft.||12||120-144 sq. ft.||1:12|
|Class||12 sq. ft.||25||300 sq. ft.||1:4 (all leaders)|
Alan Raughton and Louis B. Hanks, Essentials for Excellence: Connecting Sunday School to Life (Nashville: LifeWay, 2003), p. 34.
Marie Clark is Team Leader for the Bible Teaching and Discipling Team of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. She also serves as a volunteer Sunday School Leader in her church, Nall Avenue Baptist Church, Prairie Village, KS.