24 new groups in one week

This idea is a great idea if:

  • your church is growing
  • you are out of space
  • you are in one Sunday School and one service.

When I was in First Baptist Church Muscogee, OK four years ago they were running a little above 600 in Sunday School. They have had some teachers to get with it. They have a great new pastor. Things are going well.  People are excited. Recently, they had a high-attendance day and set a a goal of 1000. 1200 people showed up. The place was electric.

They got a big jump in attendance last March when they started a whole new Sunday School and a whole new service. They started 24 new groups in one week--eight adult groups, then fully graded an entire new Sunday School. Attendance jumped suddenly and permanently by 150.

In a way, I am not surprised to hear that. When I was on church staff we grew from one service and one Sunday School to four services and four Sunday schools. Every time we started a new service and Sunday school we saw a significant, immediate and permanent jump in attendance. My first book was about multiple services and multiple worship services.

If you are in one service and Sunday school, and you are growing and you are out of space, I would strongly encourage you to give some thought to starting a new service and Sunday School. The vast majority of growing churches consider multiple services and multiple Sunday School an normal and permanent part of church life.

Another cool thing they do at First Baptist Muscogee is make a big deal out of the creation of new groups. This is based on a couple of key leadership principles: 1) You grow a Sunday School by creating new groups. 2) The role of leadership is to define the win. At First Baptist, Muscogee, a big part of the win is to create new groups. 3) Whatever gets rewarded gets done. We don't get what we ask for; we get what we reward. At First Baptist Muscogee, they honor groups for giving birth to new groups.

By the way, this would be a great thing to do on an Association-wide basis. See my article on this at http://www.joshhunt.com/mail172.htm

If you would like to talk to the staff at First Baptist, Muskogee, I would like to invite you to join me for a conference call.

If you would like to get on the phone with the staff at First Baptist, Muskogee, and ask them any questions you might have, join us for a conference call this Thursday, December 7, 3.30 Central Time/ 4.30 Eastern Time.

1. Dial-In to your Conference Number 1-712-432-3000

2. Enter your Conference Bridge Number: 837072

If you would like to be made aware of future opportunities like this, sign up for our distance learning list at http://www.joshhunt.com/learning.htm

If you or someone you know has had similar success in doubling groups, I'd love to hear your/their story. email me at josh@joshhunt.com

Three Sunday Schools is not necessarily better than two

You might be thinking, well, if two is good, three is better. Maybe you are already in two Sunday Schools and you are thinking of starting a third. It the reason is to create more seats, I would think long and hard about that.

My wife has heard me explain this little piece four or five times to hosts who were considering going to three Sunday Schools. The last time I started into it, she interrupted me, "Josh, I have heard you explain this 4 or 5 times and I still don't get it." Now, lest you think bad thoughts about my wife, she is a pretty smart cookie. It is just that this is one of those things that defies logic. It looks like a magic trick of some kind. I was in multiple Sunday Schools for years before I realized this: Three Sunday Schools gives you 0 more seats in worship and 0 more seats in Sunday school as compared with two Sunday Schools.

Now this is based on a few assumptions:

  • You have a more or less equal capacity in worship and Sunday School space
  • You have more or less equal demand in both worship and Sunday School.
  • Musical style is a non-issue
  • Most everyone who goes to Sunday School goes to worship.

Now, in the real world most churches have more people coming to worship than Sunday School Daryl Wilson of the Kentucky Convention told me last week that it Kentucky it is about 50% more in worship than Sunday School. If this is true of you it might be more accurate for the assumption above to read something like this:

  • You are running out of worship and Sunday School space at about the same time. That is, whatever gap there is in attendance between worship and Sunday School is also reflected in a gap in available seats.

Let's imagine first that you have thee Sunday Schools and three worship services. Let's imagine that the auditorium and the Sunday school space both hold around 500. Let's start in the middle. Let's suppose the schedule looks like this:

  Worship Sunday School
8:30   a
9:45 500  
11:00   b

Let's think about the people who are worshipping at 9.45. There are 500 of them. There can not be more than 500. There are only 500 seats. This means that box a + b cannot be greater than 500. So you might have 200 in the first Sunday School, and 300 in the second Sunday School, but you cannot have 300 in each. There is a constraining influence around the middle hour. So, no matter how many empty seats you have in the early and late hour in Sunday School, you can never fill them, because there is no room for the people to go to worship.

so, this works:

  Worship Sunday School
8:30   200
9:45 500  
11:00   300

Or, this works
 

  Worship Sunday School
8:30   300
9:45 500  
11:00   200

But this can't work:

  Worship Sunday School
8:30   300
9:45 500  
11:00   300

And this will never happen:

  Worship Sunday School
8:30   500
9:45 500  
11:00   500

Same thing the other way.

  Worship Sunday School
8:30 c  
9:45   500
11:00 d  

c + d cannot be greater than 500. It won't be 600. It won't be 500 and 500. It won't be 501. The total of the outside two hours cannot be greater than the capacity of the middle hour.

So, the most we can have is this:

  Worship Sunday School
8:30 200 200
9:45 500 500
11:00 300 300
Total 1000 1000

By going to three services and three Sunday Schools, our maximum capacity is 1000 in Sunday School and 1000 in worship.

Let's suppose I stay with 2 and 2

  Worship Sunday School
9:45   500
11:00 500  
     

I can have 500 people in Sunday school who all go to worship. I can also have 500 people in worship that all go to Sunday School:

  Worship Sunday School
9:45 500  
11:00   500
     

Thus the total looks like this:

  Worship Sunday School
9:45 500 500
11:00 500 500
Total 1000 1000

By only having two Sunday Schools, I can have exactly as many as I can have with three.

A couple of other considerations. In some cases, the demand or capacity in worship or Sunday School is way out of kilter with the other. In this case we need three worship services and two Sunday Schools, or the opposite.

When you run multiple services you can never get things exactly even. In one Sunday School and one worship, they speak of the 80% rule. In multiple Sunday Schools, it is more like the 65% rule, because you can never get the services and Sunday Schools exactly even. So you have extra seats at the early service, but that doesn't do you any good because people are standing room only in the second.

Also, the preschool and parking are going to doubly crammed in double services. The auditorium is full of people, some of who have kids in the preschool. At the same time the Sunday School building is full with people, some of you who have kids in the preschool. When both halves of the building are full, the preschool is double-full.  The solution to this is to put a limit on how many children parents can have. It that doesn't work, you will need to allocate a disproportionate amount of space to preschool. If you feel like your preschool department keeps demanding more, more, more, there is a reason. And, at the end of the day, there are mathematical formulas for this too that have to do with so many kids need so many square feet per person (40 sq. feet per child comes to mind, but don't quote me on that, I am sitting on an airplane and it has been a while since I looked at those numbers.) Point is, this issue can be settled with an objective standard.

There is a similar problem with parking. When the auditorium and Sunday School is full, the parking will be extra full. Most people who come to church bring their cars. Other issues to consider include hall space and traffic flow. I have been in churches that actually designate hallways as one-way streets to help with traffic flow. It would also help to move the 9:45 Service/ Sunday school back to 9:30 to allow lessons and sermons to go over and still have time for people to get from here to there.


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