What is the impact of participating in a Sunday School or small group? We often measure the “inputs” and “outputs” of starting new groups. For example, we know that the activity of starting a new group (input) has the following results (output): attendance increases by 10 people; 3 lost people are engaged with the Gospel; and at least one person becomes a leader of the new group. Other things such as giving and evangelism increase too.
But according to new LifeWay Research found in Transformational Groups by Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger, there is more to being involved in an ongoing group Bible study than just an increase in attendance. There is something of value beyond “results”. Will Mancini, in his book Innovating Discipleship, calls it “impact”.
Action + Results = Impact
So what is the impact on the lives of individuals that participate in a Sunday School class or small group? Quite significant according to LifeWay Research. Compared to church members that attend worship only, here are just a few of the results of the research found in Transformational Groups:
Personal friendships +32%
Use spiritual gifts +31%
Read the Bible +40%
Study the Bible +32%
Pray for the lost +25%
Confess & repent of sin +25%
Share their faith +41%
The real impact of involving people in an ongoing group is significant. Considering that the disciplines in the list above are vital to the spiritual growth of an individual, it makes sense that we would want to involve as many people as possible in small groups or Sunday School classes.
The need for the church to begin new groups is often made from an action/results standpoint; (We want our church to grow. One group = 10 new people). This appeal often falls on unsympathetic ears. However, when we approach the need to start new groups from an “impact” point of view, it actually fosters more excitement because we can see the impact is not just on church attendance, but on the lives of the individuals the new group will reach. Obviously, it will be better for our church and better for our neighborhoods if we have a strategy that increases Bible study, ministry, prayer, confession, and evangelism among the people in the community.
The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, LifeWay Christian Resources, many state conventions, and potentially thousands of churches are focused on starting as many new groups as possible next year. If we approach next year with an action/results new groups strategy, we will have some success. However, that if we begin with a strategy that focuses on the impact a group has on the spiritual life of individuals, we will start many more new groups!
For more information about starting new groups, contact your state convention’s Sunday School specialist/director.