If you believe what you read or what you hear, then you may think that Sunday School and Small Groups are dying. The truth is that we’ve got some great churches doing some great things with Sunday and Small Groups in Georgia. In 2014 there were 823,934 people involved in a Sunday School class and/or a Small Group that was connected to a Georgia Baptist church. That is a 3% increase over 2013 and that doesn’t sound like “dying” to me. There is a great need to men, women, boys and girls to come to know Jesus, grow in Jesus and begin to serve Jesus.
Those 823,934 people were involved in one of the 45,039 Sunday School classes and/or Small Groups connected to a Georgia Baptist church. That averages out to about 20 people per class or group. With that average in mind, we could reach 1 million in Sunday School/Small Groups if we started 12,500 new classes and groups.
The churches on the fastest growing list for 2014 understand the importance of starting new classes/groups. Every year I spend a few days, with the help of our Research Department, studying what I call the “Fastest Growing Sunday School/Small Group Churches” of the Georgia Baptist Convention. We’ve been doing this for almost twenty years. The reason that I continue the recognition of these churches is that we need to continually renew our efforts in making disciples through groups. It is also my prayer that these churches will be an encouragement to other churches and other leaders.
It does take several months to gather all the information from 3,600+ Georgia Baptist churches. This report is based on the statistics gathered in the Annual Church Report (ACR). If you are a Sunday School Director, Small Group Director, Minister of Education and/or Pastor it is very important that you complete the ACR with accurate statistics. The report from your church helps all of us better understand the condition of all churches and thus develop better ministries and resources to aid our churches.
In order to be in the study a church had to turn in an ACR for 2014 and to have given to missions through the Cooperative Program. I looked at every churches percentage gain in Sunday School/Small Group average attendance, net gain in Sunday School/Small Group average attendance, percentage gain in Sunday School/Small Group enrollment, net gain in Sunday School/Small Group enrollment, and total baptisms from 2011 – 2014. I am looking for churches that reach new people, assimilate those they are reaching and are reproducing disciples.
Where the church is in the list of each of the above criteria will determine the number of points. For example, if the church is listed 12th on the percentage gain in Sunday School/Small Group average attendance then the church would get 12 points. The church with the lowest overall point score will be ranked 1st in the “Fastest Growing” list.
I also placed every church in a size category based on their Sunday School/Small Group average weekly attendance from their 2014 ACR. Micro = 49 or less, Small = 50-100, Intermediate = 101-199, Medium = 200-399, Large = 400-699, and Mega = 700 or more.
Congratulations to these churches and keep up the good work. To all other churches, remember that your Sunday School and/or Small Group ministries is the best method to reach new people for Christ, the best way to grow people in Christ and the best tool to reproduce disciples that will make more disciples. To see the list of churches please visit our website.