You’ve probably heard every positive way to describe the “splitting” of a Sunday School class – birth a new group, begin a daughter class, etc. Let’s add one more: franchising your group.
Franchising is a common practice in the NFL. It’s the way the league has continued to expand and capture new people so that the sport of football grows and gains influence. The New York Giants obtained their franchise for only $500 in 1925. The Dallas Cowboys (the team I root for…sigh) became a franchise in 1960 at a price of $1M. New Orleans became a franchise in 1967 at a price tag of $8.5M, and the Houston Texans became an NFL franchise in 2002 for the meager price of $700M!
Franchising is also a common practice in the business world. You can own a McDonald’s franchise if you have $500,000 of liquid cash, pay a franchise fee of $45k, and have the ability to handle the estimated $1.2-2M investment. If you like pizza and want to own a Pizza Hut franchise, all it would take is the $25,000 franchise fee plus a net worth of $700,000, and liquid cash of $350,000. I guess this leaves me out of the franchise business…unless we’re talking about the franchising of Sunday School groups.
About 90 days ago my wife and I opened a Sunday School “franchise” when we started a new group. An empty classroom across the hall from our parent class meant no new costs for the church (the room was already heated and cooled, had chairs and a white board, and was just sitting there unused). About $45 worth of curriculum was the only investment my church had to make in order to franchise our former class and allow me to open a new one. So how’s it going with our franchised class?
We are averaging 10 people (read the new David Francis book Extreme Sunday School Challenge: Engaging Our World Through New Groups and you’ll read that new groups typically add 10 people to a church’s Sunday School attendance). We’ve had a total of 6 visitors over the past 90 days, with a stable core of 8-10 people. Our group manned a booth at the church’s Fall Festival (just 2 weeks into the new group), initiated Third Sunday Lunch (we go to a local restaurant once a month after church for food and fellowship), held a Christmas fellowship at a local Japanese restaurant followed by a white elephant gift exchange, and collected monies to help families in need at Christmas. One of our core members almost choked to death in December and spent a week in ICU, and the group members rallied to support the man and his family. It’s been a fast and furious start, but I’m so thankful that we’ve begun so well. It’s a credit to The Lord who has added people to our group and brought about unity and a great spirit among the members. Where would all of these people be if we hadn’t opened a franchise and provided a place for them to connect?
If you are a teacher/group leader of an existing class, may I implore you to release people and franchise your group, too? God will add people back to your class, and people who might never connect with your class will find their way into the new franchised group. Franchising is the way to grow your class, another new class, and your overall Sunday School. As Paul told Timothy at 2 Timothy 2:2, entrust the gospel message to faithful men who would in turn teach others. Paul knew to reach his generation and subsequent ones, franchising was and is the way to go!
Will you make a conscious decision to be a catalyst in 2013 and franchise your class, or perhaps leave your class and start a “franchise” of your own?