Sunday School: What To Do When Attendance Is Down

Sunday School: What To Do When Attendance Is Down
Dr. Steve R. Parr


It is so easy to get discouraged when the Sunday School attendance drops.

Most Sunday School leaders have a desire to provide leadership for a committed group that reaches out and is blessed to receive guests and new believers on a regular basis. I assume that if you are reading this article then you have that desire. What do you do when there is a disconnect between your desire and the results?

Perhaps you feel like the young man who asks a pretty young lady out to dinner only to be rejected. He asks, “Why not, is there somebody else?” She replies, “There’s got to be!” Perhaps you are wondering if there is anything that you can do to help the attendance to rebound. There’s got to be!

Keep in mind that you have very little control over how many people attend on a given Sunday.

It is similar to your control over the weather. The temperature is going to be what it is going to be. That is in God’s control. However, just because it is thirty-two degrees outside does not mean that you have to be cold. You have control of some things. You choose whether or not to wear a coat and gloves. You choose whether to spend the night outside or inside. You choose the setting for your thermostat. Even if it is thirty-two degrees outside you can be comfortable if you make the appropriate choices.

How does that relate to your Sunday School? Focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t control. For example, you can choose whether or not to provide training for your leaders. I have quantified in previous articles how churches that provide training are generally growing and those that do not are generally declining (plus 11.2% over the past three years compared to minus 2.1% in Georgia).

You can choose whether or not to increase the enrollment this week. If a church enrolled one additional person each week and provided ministry the result would generally be one to two additional classes and an increase of fifteen to twenty-five within a year. You control whether to start a new class this year or not. A new class usually reaches people that existing classes have been unable to reach. You have control over how many contacts you make and how many people you invite to Sunday School. Why do guests attend? The answer: Because they are invited. The number of total contacts you make impacts week-to-week attendance as much as any other factor. You have control over whether or not to provide a fellowship to reach out to guests and to enhance the relationships of the attendees. You have control over the discovery of a new prospect or the follow up of a first time guest.

Here is the challenge. You do have control over many actions but none of them make a great impact in and of themselves. The cumulative effect of doing these things (and the list is not comprehensive) is at best an increase in attendance and at worst more stability in attendance.
Keep one other thing in mind. It won’t be thirty-two degrees two months from now. Your Sunday School is prone to seasons of better attendance in August, September, October, January, and February as well as seasons of struggle in November, December, April, June, and July.

Always evaluate by comparing the average for the entire month to the same month one year ago.
Your attendance may be down from last month but way up from one year ago.

In summary, focus on the principles that drive the growth and with God’s blessing the attendance will follow!

The above article, “Sunday School: What To Do When Attendance Is Down,” is written by Steve R. Parr. The article was excerpted from web site. August 2011

This material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.