DEVELOPING A DOUBLE SESSION SUNDAY SCHOOL
By: Glen E. Wierick
How would you like to have another education building, just like the one you have now, absolutely free?
Ridiculous, you say!
Yet, that is exactly what you do have. With a dual Sunday School, you can use your educational building twice on Sunday morning and double your Sunday School attendance.
Not all churches, however, need a dual Sunday School. This leaflet is intended to help you decide whether you need one; and, if so, how to go about starting it.
Most growing churches outgrow their facilities before their resources will allow another building program. They have used all possible existing space; yet, their growth potential is still strong. Because of the existing
indebtedness and limited budget, money is not available to begin another building program.
In this case, the dual Sunday School is the most logical answer. It affords the rapidly growing Sunday School the luxury of another identical “building” and the possibility of doubling the present attendance. The icing on the cake is that the “new building” costs are so negligible that the added operating cost is hardly noticed.
The first step in starting a dual Sunday School involves communication. From the pulpit, through the church paper, in Sunday School departments and classes, in small groups, and in weekly workers’ meetings, you must sell the people on the need. Stress the imperative of reaching people for Bible study. Point out that every available space is currently being used. Emphasize the church’s inability to enter a building program and the time that would be lost in waiting for a new building.
Remember that the dual Sunday School only provides more space and is not an immediate assurance for added growth. A great deal of work must go into the program for ultimate success, but this is a good step in the right direction.
Involving as many leaders as possible, arrive at a schedule designed to meet your needs. If your auditorium is large enough to warrant only one worship service, your Sunday School probably would follow Schedule A below.
8:30 Sunday School
9:45 Worship Service
11:00 Sunday School
Often, rapidly growing churches experience lack of auditorium space as well as educational space and require two worship services. One such plan, sometimes called “fruit basket turnover,” is shown in Schedule B.
9:15 Sunday School
9:15 Worship Service
10:45 Sunday School
10:45 Worship Service
Many congregations have gotten into the habit of conducting early services and dismissing around 10:30 or 11:00 A.M. Some people like early services and early dismissal. In that case, Schedule C may be the choice of some churches.
8:30 Sunday School
9:45 Worship Service
9:45 Sunday School
11:00 Worship Service
Once you have determined your schedule, set a target date approximately six months away for entry into the dual program.
Now begins the hard work. All members of your Sunday School must be contacted to determine their choice of schools. Three factors affect your thinking at this point: (1) the right of choice for every member, (2) the need for teachers, and (3) choir personnel for added worship services.
The acceptance of the dual program and cooperation of your people will be greatly enhanced if they have freedom of choice. As a leader, however, you have certain responsibilities that must be met. For example, in two worship services, you will want to give consideration to musicians who fill places of responsibility in each service.
When you have divided your present membership into two rolls, you can proceed in setting up two complete organizations. Using suggested enrollment ceilings for each age division, determine an organization for each school from babies through the oldest adults.
You also will need to determine which school receives which prospects initially. As equal a distribution as possible will be the fair thing to do. As members visit the prospects, of course, they will want to inform
them of your dual school and let them know that they have a choice.
When the two organizations are complete, the Sunday School leaders, working through the nominating committee, will enlist workers for the various needs. In addition to the workers already serving, you will find that the expanded organization calls for more officers and teachers. The new departments and classes, if given the right leadership, will reach more people for Bible study.
The following formula for enlisting workers has been used successfully by churches for years:
1. Pray for the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
2. Take the church membership and Sunday School enrollment file and compose a list of “prospective workers.”
3. When considering each new name, ask only two questions of the prospect: (1) Could the person serve somewhere if he would? (2) Would he be acceptable to the church?
4. Whenever “yes” is the answer to both questions, list the person’s name, address, and telephone number.
5. Make a list of worker needs for the new organizations.
6. With both lists in hand, select only one name for each need from the “prospective workers” list.
7. Select the person who can most effectively make the contact with the prospective worker.
8. Make an appointment with the prospect.
9. In making the contact, tell of the need, the requirements of the job, and the help available. Then ask the person to pray about the matter and, within a reasonable period of time, respond.
When an approach for new workers is made in such a manner, the results are always good.
An attempt often is made in the dual Sunday School to make a problem of the weekly workers’ meeting. There is no serious problem, other than any that existed before. Each department functions under its own leadership in an assigned area. Workers may meet for planning in the department room or in empty classrooms. If you use division directors or coordinators, a meeting of each division’s leaders from time to time would be helpful in promoting unity.
Because you have enlisted many new teachers and officers, you will want to take advantage of the weekly workers’ meeting to give them the best training possible. Use the division leadership magazines for assistance in planning your weekly meetings.
Since an expanded organization probably will require even more workers in the future, you would do well to institute a regular teacher training program. Even if vacancies do not exist when these students graduate from your program, consider using them in organizing new units.
In the beginning, you may not use your full space twice; but as both schools grow and you add new classes and departments, full utilization of your total building will begin to be realized.
In Preschool areas where extended session activities are a part of the total teaching time, you probably will need to duplicate space and equipment for the second school.
Obviously, there are several problems in dual usage of the same space, and practically all of them occur to the second Sunday School. Rooms will be disarranged, materials will be misplaced, and the room will not have the acceptably “clean” appearance to the second school.
Solutions to these problems require extreme cooperation on the part of the first school’s workers. They must respect the needs of the second school in the use of equipment. They must watch their time carefully and not encroach on the preparation time of the second school. They must make the best effort possible to leave the room in as good condition as they found it. These are good reasons for cooperation between the two schools at the weekly workers’ meetings.
If possible, allow at least fifteen minutes between schools. This will give time for the second school’s workers to make preparation for opening teaching activities, as well as allow enough time for the first school to get to choir or worship preparation activities.
Some churches see the dual Sunday School as a continuing operation. Most see it as a temporary measure until they can be in a financial position to build additional educational space. Both philosophies have merit.
While continual usage of dual schools is the best stewardship of your buildings, it also is true that dual programs create divided congregations as families attend different Sunday Schools and worship services.
If the dual program is temporary, building and planning committees should begin working toward a date when additional space would be constructed. If growth continues as expected under the dual program, most schools not onlyexperience excellent financial growth toward the building fund, but find that they grow numerically to the point that they almost fill the new space before it is constructed.
A dual Sunday School is only a step, but an important step. It is not a shortcut to growth. But, if a church wants to reach people and can’t because of a “saturated” building, then the dual Sunday School may be the
(The above material is published by The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
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