Strategies to Revitalize the Smaller Sunday School

Strategies to Revitalize the Smaller Sunday School
Developed by Steven R. Mills

I. We Must Respect and Value the Patient
Roughly 75% of Assemblies of God Churches average less than 100 in Attendance.
People must be trained to lead a small church toward growth.
Most churches begin as a “small church.”
The small church needs encouragement in a “large church” world.
Small church leaders need an outside, sensitive perspective.
Small churches need to realize that small doesn’t mean ugly.
Small churches generally have great potential.
Small churches must resist the temptation to close their doors.

III. The Benefits of a Small Church
In a big world, the small church has remained intimate.
In a fast world, the small church has been steady.
In an expensive world, the small church has remained plain.
In a complex world, the church has remained simple.
In a rational world, the small church has kept feeling.
In a mobile world, the small church has been an anchor.
In an anonymous world, the small church calls us by name.
~Wayne Zunkel

IV. Diagnose the True Condition
The relational element is stronger than the outreach element.
The expanding the programming for growth is more difficult.
The typical small church member’s attitude is, “Big is Bad.”
There is often a combination of poor self-image and pride.
Why Do Small Churches Suffer From Low Self-Esteem?

The leadership often underestimates the strength, resources, assets, and potential of the small church.
The small church often doesn’t record and remember achievements and victories. It is easier to remember failures.
The approach to planning is more negative than positive. They tend to look at their weaknesses rather than their strengths.
Often leadership tries to bring the large church perspective into the small church.
The short tenure of the pastor. This is particularly disruptive and negative if the pastor is moving to a “better” position.
One thing is more disruptive than short tenure and that is having a pastor stay that has a low self-esteem or personal morale problems.
The small church may focus on the past. They tend to live in the “Good Old Days.”
~Lyle Shaller

They have a strong concept of organism almost to the exclusion of organization.
Planning is viewed as a short-term necessity, not a long-term opportunity.
The basic motivation is survival.
The youth grow up, leave, and don’t come back.
Sunday School is seen as the center of fellowship and not the center for growth opportunities.


V. Prescribe the Right Remedy

Principle #1- Most people are reached through natural webs.
Principle #2 – Churches grow through the multiplication of groups.
According to Win Arn, a healthy church needs at least seven groups per 100 people attending.
People will likely drop out of church if they are not able to develop six to seven meaningful relationships in the church within 6 to 9 months.
One out of every five groups in the church should have been started within the last 2 years.
Groups reach a saturation point between 9 and 18 months.

Principle # 3 – Receptive times are the best times to win people.


Death of spouse
Marital separation
Jail term
Death of close family member
Personal injury or illness
Fired at work
Marital reconciliation
Change in Family member’s health
Sex difficulties
Addition to family
Business readjustment
Change in financial status
Death of close friend
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
Son or daughter leaving home


VI. Maintain A Healthy Environment
Always build up morale.
Develop the right attitudes and manners toward new ideas, and new people.
Implement growth methods.
Through prayer
Through a desire to reach people
Through knowing growth principles

VII. Exercise for Total Fitness
Identify and reach extended family.
Identify marginal members and reach out to them.
Identify a real need in the church or community and start a group to meet it.
Use an outreach campaign from the national Sunday School department.
Sponsor a ‘Friend Day’.
Teach people to watch for receptive times and know how to help.
Preach and teach biblical growth principles.
Dream and plan with the congregation about the future.