Our Successful Sunday School Drive

Our Successful Sunday School Drive
(How things have been going in Murfreesboro, TN)
Phil DePriest

I have been asked to record the methods and means to our exciting Sunday School drive which culminated this past Easter, March 31, 1991. We had a four year old record of 168 which we had tried to break on many occasions, but just couldn’t seem to do it. Easter we had 195. This is the story.

The structure of our Sunday School drive was much the same as other years.

The drive was to start on the first Sunday of March, and run for the five¬†Sundays of March. On that first Sunday, we introduced the drive, with a modest amount of enthusiasm, no fireworks or really big happenings, and outlined the goals and rewards. Our goal was 160, something I really believed in, and knew we could obtain, and the reward was that the child who brought the most visitors would be able to choose between two prizes, a “walkman” cassette player, or a 110 instamatic camera. The child who brought the second most would have the prize not chosen by the first place winner. In addition,
on the successive Sundays, each child present would receive a “frisbee” throwing ring, a yo yo, and a kite. On the last Sunday, the classes would have treats, and we would award the prizes for the winners. Now, this strategy is the same we had used the previous years, and had enjoyed only modest results. So, what was different about this year? I felt I knew the answer, or more accurately, the answers, but thought I would ask our department heads what they thought.

The Ladies Auxiliary president felt that it was due to the excitement generated by new programs, we had started a youth choir, begun a few new classes, started singing new choruses. And that 90% of our success was our faith. Not impressed? Not impressive.

The Youth leader felt like it was partially that our pastor wanted to see 200 in service, and that folk rallied around that. Another contributing factor was a fellowship meeting where we had 340 people in our church that really only seats 200! This taught us that we could see big crowds in our church.

So what if they were not sinners, if we never had seen that many people, how could we believe that many sinners could come? His wife thought it was the enthusiasm of the leadership. A contributing factor was our record-keeping in classes, as we now know where we are, and where we need to go. Mostly, there was a great expectation. They really believed we would have more than the 200, which was 40 more than our stated goal!

The Sunday School director says it is the overall attitude of the church. We now are consistently positive, no “well ifs are spoken among us. He also points out that our SS averages for the months of January were: 1985: 84; 1986: 87; 1987: 91; 1988: 100; 1989: 87; 1990: 96; 1991: 121. It was in November of 1989 that we first set goals for our Sunday School, 6 months after, for the first time in history, we began to keep up with a Sunday School class roll and the number of absentees. He also believed that we would definitely break our all time SS attendance record, he just wasn’t sure by how much!

The success of our Sunday School drive really came from the “grass roots” level of our church. The individual families were excited about what was happening. A general feeling of excitement existed among our church members, and it had very little to do with the prizes we gave away. When people get excited, they begin to say, “We are going to have about 200 in church Easter,” instead of “The pastor wants us to have 160, but I don’t think we will.”

This attitude adjustment really took place. As leaders, we began months and years before to set obtainable goals, and then built our own credibility by pointing to the previously stated goals after we had obtained them. We have yet to miss making a goal set by prayer and fasting! (Our goal is 300 in five years, we are 1 1/2 years into the process and ahead by 10 people) This credibility allowed us all to have faith for what God could do for us. We had a special edition of our children’s choir to sing for the Sunday Morning service, we provided additional parking, dressed up the sanctuary with more greenery and flowers, and we really believed we would do what we said we would! I believe you really must have faith, and that you can not fake faith! We were excited!

Okay, so what about all the years we were not successful? Maybe our methods were not right. Maybe it wasn’t God’s time. The truth is that a successful Sunday School drive is a part of everything else you do. All you have to do is win one battle and the momentum is on for the rest of the war. A few years ago, we had not had anyone receive the Holy Ghost in our altars for a year.

Now, we are surprised when a month goes by and no one has received the Holy Ghost. We began by praying for that, we saw a victory and built on it! All isn’t rosy, we had a problem with our young people and discipline (who hasn’t), and after solving that problem, I immediately thanked God! Two years earlier,
we had no young people to give us problems! Thank God for problems!

So, the next time you see a person get the Holy Ghost, or get a blessing, or anything, stand up and say to the devil, “This is the beginning.” Realize that if God will do that for you, he will help you build a Sunday School.

Live, eat and drink revival and church growth. Two things will then happen. One, you will begin to believe and transmit that faith to others, and two, you’ll lose weight!