A real Southern Baptist Church, that will remain anonymous, hired an expensive church consultant group (also anonymous) that came to evaluate the church to help them deal with their plateau in church attendance. The church was sincerely concerned about their effectiveness in reaching and keeping new people. The consultant took their money and left a long list of suggestions that included things like new paint in the sanctuary, the start of a more effective greeting ministry and renovation of the nurseries. While the ideas were all good, the changes the church made did little to help them reach new people for Christ.
The people were frustrated with the results of all their hard work. One of the members had a son who was in ministry at a growing church and he asked a simple question that helped the church discover the real problem with their attendance plateau. The chart to the right shows the church’s attendance and number of Sunday School classes in the church. They realized that they had no increase in attendance because they had not added any new classes in over 10 years. When they added new teaching units, the growth of the church began to increase again.
Allan Taylor, a Sunday School trainer and consultant with LifeWay Christian Resources, refers to this pattern as the pyramid principle. The principle simply states that as the base of the pyramid increases (the number of classes in a church); the height of the pyramid (the Sunday School attendance) can also increase. If the base is not increased, the height remains the same and this becomes a barrier to the growth in every other important area of the church. The church cannot keep the same structure in place and honestly expect different results.
As our church gets ready for the new Sunday School year in September, we must seriously consider the base of our church’s Sunday School pyramid. Our current structure of 17 classes is allowing us to have an average attendance of about 150 in Sunday School. That’s about one class for nine attendees. Generally speaking, a good growth ratio of classes to attendees is 1 to 8 to start off a new year of growth. Imagine what might happen if we could add two or three new classes in the upcoming Sunday School year, starting in September.
New classes/groups can be added in various ways. An established class can choose to start a “mission class” out of their class. A team can start a new group after Easter or a big Sunday, with the new people who visited the church and several prospects. A New Member’s Class can be started and allowed to develop into an ongoing class. A class can be started after a big revival emphasis as new converts become active in church life. A new group can be started to meet a special need or to offer a different curriculum choice.
New units can be started in various ways and be effectively launched with winning TEAMS made up of a Teacher, an Evangelism leader, an Apprentice Teacher, a Member Care Leader and a Secretary/Support person. With these five people in position, the class is prepared for a successful launch and the opportunity to grow and obey the Great Commission to reach people and make disciples for Christ—and no offense to the Hokey Pokey—that’s what it is all about!
NOTE: Allan Taylor is coming to Cincinnati. He is the keynote speaker for the Boldly Grow Conference on Saturday, October 7, 2017, at FBC South Lebanon. Reserve your spot by calling (513) 724-7182.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC S. Lebanon.