Unlocking the Sunday School Passcode: 0-0-5-0

This is the third in a series of blog posts I’ve been delivering on the topic of unlocking your Sunday School’s passcode.  If you have a smartphone, no doubt you’ve set a passcode to secure your information.  You (or someone else) can’t get to critical information without the right passcode entry.  So over the next few weeks, I’ll give you some passcodes to unlock “secrets” to Sunday School growth and health.  In this third post, your passcode is 0-0-5-0.

The number 50 represents the percentage of people who actually attend Sunday School each week, as compared to your total enrollment.  If you have a class that averages 12 people in attendance each week, you most likely have a total enrollment of 24-26 people.  If you have 40 in attendance, then your class role enrollment is most likely 80-85 people.  There are always exceptions to this attendance/enrollment rule, but for the most part you will find that it holds true over time.  I used to track weekly attendance when I was on church staff, and this held true in the two churches I served.  One had fast growth, the other was more plateaued, but the 50% figure held true in both locations.

So, let’s do some math.  If you have 24 people on role and average 12 people in class, you’re attendance versus enrollment percentage is very typical.  If you want to see your average weekly attendance grow to 20, how many more people would you want to enroll, if 50% of enrollees actually attend class?  The difference between the 20 you want and the 12 you have is 8.  To realize an increase of 8 people each week, you would want to enroll 16 new people in your class (50% of the 16 will attend on average).  You will also want to take into account the “churn” or turnover in your class, too; you will always have people coming and going with job transfers or changes of schedule.  So let’s say that to have a new weekly attendance of 20, you’ll have to enroll 20 new people in your class.  How realistic is that goal?

20 new enrollees equals 1.67 new people per month (20 divided by 12).  Basically, that’s one couple (or two singles) per month…that’s all.  Surely you can enroll one new couple each month…you’ve got 4 weeks to do that!  People in your class know friends who aren’t involved in any church…start there.  Your worship service has people who aren’t connected to a small group…start there.  If your class is designed for parents of students, where else might you look to find prospects for class enrollment?  How about at ballgames, student events, parents of your teenager’s friends, neighbors with teenagers in their household?

One final word of caution:  although there is a relationship between enrollment and attendance, don’t place people on the class role just for numbers sake.  People you enroll are now in a place to receive ministry from you and your class…think of your class role as a ministry role.  The people you’ve been entrusted have real needs and pains, so get busy (better yet, get your class members busy) ministering to them.

And remember that for every two people you enroll, your average attendance will rise by 1.  Think about what might happen if all the adult, student, and children’s classes in your church decided to set enrollment goals, ministering to people as God added people to the classes through your intentional efforts!

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