Sunday School and The Two Year Principle

David Francis in Missionary Sunday School discusses the two year principle for Sunday School and what to do about it. So what is the Two Year Principle? An adult Sunday School class is highly unlikely to grow past the attendance it achieves in its first two years. The twenty percent principle applies after that. You will gain and lose twenty percent of a class each year. If you have 20 people in the class, you may lose up to four persons and then gain up to four new persons. So why is all of this significant?

Significant growth in Sunday School/Bible Study can only take place with new classes. As I and others have mentioned before, a new class on average brings ten new people to Sunday School. If you want to increase your attendance in Sunday School overall by 40 new people, you need to start four new classes. (See my blog “Growing Your Church: Growing Your Sunday School” for some tips on the basics of starting new classes.)

The key for starting new classes begins with attitude! Read Mark 2:1-12 and identify the three types of people in the passage.

  1. You will see a crowd that blocked the door that day. These are your pew warmers who are there for fellowship and Bible study for themselves. We have to move them to a missionary mindset to recognize Sunday School was meant to be a missionary/discipling endeavor.
  2. You will see the teachers of the law who believe that there is only one way to do Sunday School (Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. at the church). These are folks with blinders on who have difficulty moving beyond the set parameters. The religious leaders did not recognize Jesus, because Jesus did not act the way they thought the Messiah would. They were looking for a military law giving Messiah, not a grace filled suffering servant who came to save the lost.
  3. You will see a group of people determined to bring a lost person to Jesus. They didn’t allow the crowd, the cost of fixing a roof or anything else to stand in their way. Because of their faith, Jesus forgave the paralytics sins (verse 5). Do you see the power of this statement? It wasn’t the paralytic’s faith but the four who carried the paralytic that led to spiritual and eventually physical healing. We need to be looking for persons who are passionate about reaching people for Christ and providing training, and opportunities to start new classes.


Here is an easy solution to start new classes. Think outside of Sunday morning and have each class sponsor a class at another time. Perhaps the class will meet in a home, a community building, at church at another time or by video conferencing. Poll members in the pew at worship who do not come to Sunday School about a time and place for Bible study. Talk to people in the community who work on Sunday. Look for affinity groups who need Bible study.

As far as training goes, let me put two dates on your radar:

For Sunday School Directors: On Saturday, March 16th from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. we will have a Sunday School Directors’ Seminar at the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. This is a free seminar to assist SS Directors to move their Sunday School to the next level.

On Saturday, May 4th at Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg, we will have an intensive age-graded Sunday School training from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. for all SS workers. (There will be intensive practical deacon training and a leadership track for Pastors that day as well!) We should have something on the website soon.

Sunday School is about reaching people for Christ and making disciples. You have the privilege, responsibility and power through Christ (remember Mark 2: 5) to do just that!

About tonystopic

Seeker and connector to the abundant life as a husband (to Katrina), father (to Tara & Joseph) and Field Strategist/Sunday School Specialist for the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.
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2 Responses to Sunday School and The Two Year Principle

  1. Dan Ward says:

    Good Afternoon Tony, thanks for the useful blog and looking forward to more information on the training sessions mentioned above.

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