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Church Administration

Ben Stroup tweeted a question yesterday about what one church admin responsibility would you drop.

My response was Sunday School attendance taking.

Since he works for Lifeway, he was rightly dismayed by my answer.

Now, I'm not against taking attendance for Sunday School. What I'd do away with is the multiple redundancy system that we use here. However, I'll roll with the wider question:

What good does taking attendance in Sunday School do?

Really. If you don't know that someone isn't there only if they aren't on the roll sheet, then you have failed the relationship purpose of Sunday School. Either your class is too big or your eyes are too small.

What about visitors? What about them? You can't get a person to go one-on-one and get their name and information?

What about recording the attendance? What about it? Any SBC church going to cancel Sunday School because attendance is down? Or do we use the numbers either to create an artificial target or perpetuate criticism?

So, we'll keep counting around here, taking attendance, turning in attendance, counting it, re-adding it, re-checking it Monday morning, then calling in a panic when the Monday add-up doesn't match the Sunday add-up, all over either latecomers or bad math. Meanwhile, we'll keep 2 people out of Bible study on Sunday morning to facilitate the numbers, interrupt classes to get attendance sheets, and use resources to print, reprint, and store years of Sunday School records.

Seriously, folks, are we sure we need this?



  1. I totally agree. It would also gives us more people that could commit to teaching classes!

  2. A few thoughts:

    1. Sunday School enrollment is the more important number. It drives attendance and has for decades been 50% of enrollment for the SBC as a whole.

    2. SS attendance is a valid measurement, but don't know that I know of many churches that go to heroic efforts to get it; thus the numbers are probably understated.

    3. Pastors and staff who freak out over year-over-year for the same Sunday or Sunday-over-Sunday numbers will make themselves crazy!

    4. I think there is a better number. I call it "active attendance." Calculated monthly. Two components: Number of members who attended at least once during the month (visitors get counted if they enroll!) PLUS the number of service/associate members of the class serving in kids and student classes. This is a better metric of a class's strength, in my view. And pastors really like the first part of the calculation.

  3. Ok, I just typed this out, and now have to do it again. Ack.

    Anon #1: Fred, is that you again? (Fred is one of our church members that posts 'anonymous' comments, and then asks me at church if I've read his comments. He's not very anonymous.)

    Anon #2: Those are some good ideas, and some better metrics than what we use.

    We are working towards making sure our classes remember those who are serving. Some of our teachers have been teaching so long, they'd be in a different class than the one they left to go teach!

    It's a good thing to take our pulse and see if we're healthy.

    Yesterday, I spent a lot of time in 'idealistic preacher-land' and was thinking it would be good to have an accountability method within the church. Rather than just check off church members for attendance, on Monday, have them email or fill out a web form, stating that they were here, and what they learned. And only count the ones that remember something from Sunday School other than what color hat the Jones Sisters were wearing. Same thing with worship attendance.

    Well, such thoughts are born of time in the office...


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