Rediscovering Flake’s Formula – Part 1



π = c/d


You probably know the formula for the Theory of Relativity, water, and the mathematical equation for Pi. I bet you don’t know the formula that Arthur Flake invented almost 100 years ago to grow groups and groups ministries. His formula, K-E-E-P-GO has been forgotten by a great many people in the church today. A friend and co-worker of mine, Dr. Dwayne McCrary, recently traveled and spoke to a group of 15 church leaders responsible for the groups ministries of their churches. Dr. M asked the group if they knew Flake’s Formula, and out of the fifteen, not one could tell him the formula. Not one.

Arthur Flake
Arthur Flake

So I’ve decided to spend two blog posts, one today and one tomorrow, discussing the formula and its implications for your group and your church’s groups ministry. At the end of the blog post, I’ll have a free offer for you, too. Time to get reading!

Who Was Arthur Flake?

Arthur Flake became the first leader of the Sunday School Department of the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) in 1920…Mr. Flake, a committed layman and traveling salesman, settled down in Winona, Mississippi, in 1894 to enter the department store business. By 1895 Flake led the Winona Baptist Church to form the first Training Union in Mississippi. He served as the church’s Sunday School Director and was so successful that he was employed in 1909 as a field worker for the Baptist Sunday School Board. Then this outstanding layman was asked to move to Nashville in 1920 to head the Sunday School Department, which became the major work of his life for the next 17 years (5 Step Formula for Sunday School Growth, p.4).

Flake was a product of the scientific management theory era, and he sought ways to make processes work with a high degree of efficiency. He applied the theories to the work of Sunday School and developed his five-step formula for growing a Sunday School ministry (substitute whatever name your church calls its groups ministry!). The formula still works today, almost 100 years after he invented it. Whether your group meets in a classroom or a living room, this formula works.


The first step in growing your group or your overall groups ministry is to know its possibilities. What exactly does that mean? It means knowing:

  • The gaps in your ministry – who wouldn’t have a Bible study group they could attend if they showed up looking for one? Then there is a possibility for adding a new group to meet that need.
  • Your community – what people groups in your community are not being served by your church? You need a Bible study group for them. There’s another possibility!

How can you more fully know the possibilities for your Sunday School (again, substitute the name your church calls your Bible teaching ministry!)?

  1. Windshield survey – drive through your community and identify people your church isn’t reaching.
  2. A religious census – going door-to-door in order to identify possibilities for starting new groups.
  3. Telephone surveys
  4. Worship service guests
  5. Inactive members
  6. Special events
  7. Newcomer lists
  8. Friends, relatives and neighbors


Once you determine your possibilities, it’s time to expand the Bible study organization. Some of you astute readers just had a “Wait a second!” moment, didn’t you. You mean expand the organization before any of the people you’ve identified as potential attenders even set foot on your church campus? Exactly!

Flake strongly believed in organizing your Bible teaching ministry for your current attenders PLUS your possibilities. He’d encourage you to have enough classes, departments, or groups to provide for  your current attendance levels plus the newly discovered unreached people groups.

The Free Offer

As I said at the outset of this blog post, I’ve got a free offer for you. My friend and colleague, David Francis, the Director of Sunday School at LifeWay, wrote a book about Arthur Flake a few years ago. It’s a great, quick summary of his life and ministry plus his five-step formula for growing your Bible teaching ministry.

LifeWay will give you a free e-reader version of the book! Click here to jump to the exact spot on the LifeWay site where you can download the book to your computer.

Tomorrow’s post will summarize the last 3 steps in the five-step formula…I hope you’ll be back to read that!


If you are not following this blog, click here to go to and sign up in less than 30 seconds! You’ll begin receiving daily posts Monday through Friday.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s