Having led one church to grow its Sunday School from 4o initial members to over 24oo members in just 10 years taught me a lot about the importance of starting new classes. If a church is not intentional about starting new classes, it will soon find itself in trouble. For every new class you start, you can figure you’ll increase attendance by approximately 10 people. From my experience, you know it’s time to start a new class when…
1) A class has been together for at least 2 years. It’s really hard for guests to break into classes that have been together for longer than 24 months. Relationships have been formed and life has been shared. When a class approaches its second birthday, it’s time to think “start a new class.”
2) A class doesn’t see a steady stream of guests. It’s true…classes “cool off” after a time and will often turn inward. Sunday mornings become all about them, not the people who don’t yet know Christ. If you can recruit people to leave the class and start a new one, it’s almost a guarantee they will reach more people for Christ and demonstrate an excitement for kingdom growth the mother class hasn’t shown in years. Who knows, maybe that excitement will rub off and inspire the mother class to move to new heights of evangelism.
3) A class has ceased to grow. When a class no longer adds people to its membership, it’s time to start a new class. The class may have done a good job in the past of reaching new people, but over time the growth may have cooled off. It’s possible that the influx of newer class members has frustrated the charter members of the class and therefore they are resistant to reaching any more new people.
4) A class fills the room to over 80% of capacity. The 80/20 rule is real. When a class exceeds 80% of its seating capacity, the room is visually full to guests. A class can certainly exceed 80% of its seating capacity (it’s actually pretty fun to have a full room with no empty seats) but any class that does exceed 80% of its seating capacity for very long will almost always drop to an attendance rate less than the 80% it once exceeded. People like elbow room, so be thinking about square footage standards that recommend adults have 15 square feet of space each. A class that averages 15 adults needs at least 225 square feet of space.
5) The fall comes around. Most churches experience a boost in Sunday School attendance every fall. It normally begins in August with back-to-school Sunday. People begin settling into routines again after a long summer of rest and relaxation. August/September is a great time to launch new classes…every year. If a church was averaging 150 people in Sunday School and started one new class in its preschool, children, student, and adult ministries, it should grow by 40 people and in a year be averaging 190 people (new classes tend to add 10 people each). That’s really great growth with a minimum of effort to start new classes. The trick is to be intentional every year and have a game plan to start new classes.
LifeWay has developed a landing page full of information about starting new groups. For more information, click here to be taken to the New Units page and start making plans to launch some new classes!