In a recent conference with church education leaders, a friend and colleague, Bruce Raley, taught the participants a great lesson about starting new groups. Bruce asked if anyone in the group had ever heard a church committee or business administrator say, “We can’t afford curriculum.” A few nodded in the affirmative. Bruce went on to tell the participants that in reality, a church can’t afford not to start new groups and buy curriculum for them. Here’s why.
New groups typically add 10 people on average to a church’s Sunday School attendance. Now consider that every church has a per capita giving average (a typical church is most likely $25 per person). Of course, many churches exceed this (the two churches I served did…we had an almost $70 per capita at one church, and $50 at the other). So let’s do some math.
If a church started a new adult class and bought curriculum for that class, the cost would be about $150 a year (2 leader books (one for the teacher and the other for an apprentice) plus 10 learner books each quarter, and a few more learner books for guests throughout the year). If the 10 new class members averaged $25 of giving each week (the per capita), they would give $250 a week through the offering. Multiply $250 a week times 52 weeks, and you quickly realize that equals $13,000 a year. Subtract the $150 for the curriculum, and you now know why you can’t afford not to start new groups!
Don’t start new groups to generate income for the church, but do realize that a wonderful side benefit of reaching new people for Bible study and church membership through new groups is the fact the group members will give financially, which helps the church accomplish its mission in the community and around the world.
What if you committed to start 4 new groups a year? One new preschool, children, student, and adult class would equal those four new groups. If per capita giving was $25 as in our example above, the Sunday School would not only reach 40 new people for Bible study, but it would also help the church’s income grow by $52,000! That’s enough to hire additional staff, pay off debt, fund mission trips, invest in community ministry, and much more! What would you do with an extra $50,000 a year? Don’t start new groups as a “money making” strategy, but do realize that it’s a simple fact of life that group members give, and they almost always give at a rate higher than worship-only attenders. The financial benefits of starting new groups is a bonus as you and I do what we should be doing anyway…starting new groups.
The next time you have a budget battle over curriculum costs, help people understand why you can’t afford not to start new groups and provide curriculum for them.