Posted: 11/19/19 at 1:00pm. Post by Tony Brooks.
Note to reader: This blog post is the ninth in a weekly series and contains excerpts from Ken Braddy’s book, Breathing Life into Sunday School.
Numbers do matter! Ask sports teams about sabermetrics and analytics. Since 2001, when Manager Billy Beane of the Oakland As started using them to have a competitive MLB team, sports teams in the colleges and pros use numbers to increase their chances of winning.
Sunday School specialists have been using certain numbers to increase the overall health of churches since long before 2001! Here are some (not all) of the numbers Ken Braddy considers important:
24– A Bible study group tends to calcify when members have been together 24 months. (Braddy would suggest 18 months might see the same results.) Why does this matter? Don’t we want them to grow close and do life together? Essentially, we do want them to grow closer, but they become a closed group at this point. It is harder for guests to feel a part of the group. Group leaders should encourage two to three people to start a new group every year. Sunday School was meant to be a missionary and disciple-making endeavor. Guests will feel more comfortable in a new group (within a year of its inception) than a group going 24 months or longer.
1- Every Bible study group needs a prospect file. We cannot expect people just to show up. We need to register guests in worship/special events and get their information to groups as prospects! You need at least one prospect for every member on your roll.
5- Every person in your class knows, on average, five people who are not in a Bible study group. Encourage them to get contact information to add them to the prospect file. (I use a three-ring binder in each class. I have a document to show you what a prospect file looks like. Email me at email@example.com if you would like it.) Every member of the class is encouraged to look through the binder and find someone to contact and invite to social events and the Bible study meeting as well. (A social event is always a good place to start for people who have not come to your church.) You should have a social event at least once a quarter.
48– A first-time guest will often return for a second time if they are contacted within the first 48 hours of their visit versus someone who is not contacted in a timely manner. At a previous church, we would have a member drop of a gift and information about the church on Sunday afternoon after their visit that morning. Someone else would send a letter that week. A third person would call them on Wednesday or Thursday evening as well. This church showed that they cared!
10– Every successful new start of a group will average ten more people in Sunday School overall. They may not all be in your class. They may have children who are in another class, but you will average 10 new people in Sunday School! Not only that, your church giving will increase based on the number of new people who are coming.
18– On average it takes a new person (who is looking for a church) about 18 months to join a church. I don’t think this is rocket science! I will say that being in a small group Bible study significantly leads to new converts and membership more so than going to worship alone.
82– Braddy (p. 103 of Breathing Life into Sunday School) refers to Dr. Thom Rainer’s research for his book, High Expectations, in which Rainer discovered the following. 82 percent of members who joined a church and were involved in Sunday School and worship were still active in the church five years later! Only 16% of those who attended worship only in that five years were still active. The numbers don’t lie! People need a small community of believers to go deeper in their spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well-being!
35– 35 minutes is the general amount of time that the teacher has in applying the scripture to life. We know that many times, people will come in late. There is usually prayer time, and some will leave early for choir or to pick up children. There are three elements in teaching: Motivation (to interest them in the lesson), Examination (delving into the Scriptures for the central truths of the passage) and Application (How do I apply these truths to everyday life?). I agree with Braddy that many teachers feel they are pressured be the experts. They do an “information dump” for the 35 minutes and hope the members can apply it themselves. It is better to draw them in (Motivation), have 3-4 well crafted questions to get them to discuss the Bible passage and truths (Examination), and help them draw conclusions for Application. If we don’t get to application, we have failed as teachers.
Numbers do matter! How are these numbers for your Sunday School and small groups?