Wednesday, May 19, 2010

FBC Rincon - future of Sunday School and morning worship

by Dr. Bob Rogers, pastor
First Baptist Church of Rincon, Georgia - May 12, 2010

On May 6, 2010, the pastor and church staff, Sunday School director, and all of the heads of the age-group departments in Sunday School met and discussed the options for future growth in Sunday School and morning worship. This meeting lasted two hours, and went into great detail considering every option. This is the report from that meeting:

Before the year 2000, First Baptist Church of Rincon had one Sunday School and two morning services, with the following Sunday morning schedule: 8:30 a.m. worship, 9:45 a.m. Sunday School, and 11:00 a.m. worship.
When the new 900-seat sanctuary opened in 2000, we changed to one morning service and one Sunday School, with the following Sunday morning schedule: 9:00 a.m. Sunday School and 10:30 a.m. worship.
Due to growth and space limitations, we revised the schedule again in 2005 to two morning services and two Sunday Schools, with the following Sunday morning schedule: 9:00 & 10:30 a.m. Sunday Schools and 9:00 & 10:30 a.m. worship services.

There are many Sundays during the year when we would not have room for everybody in worship if we did not have two morning services. On Easter Sunday for the past two years we have had over 1,300 total attendees, but there have also been many other occasions when the combined morning worship attendance was more than the 900-person seating capacity. We need to continue having two morning services.

Option of one Sunday School
With the opening of a new, 24,000-square-foot preschool and children's educational building in 2010, the question has arisen in the minds of some members as to whether our Sunday School format should be changed again, and whether we might have room to go back to one Sunday School. After a thorough discussion, it was the consensus of the church staff and Sunday School leadership that while going to one Sunday School is a desirable goal in the future, such a change at this time would limit our church's growth potential and should not be attempted at this time. Consider two major problems: available space and the need for preschool workers.
* Available space problems: While we are adding plenty of space for preschoolers and children, we are not adding any new space for the parents of these children. We anticipate growth in ministry to young families. Where will we put these additional young adults, if we go to one Sunday School? While we have a few classrooms that are not currently used during Sunday School, if we combined the two Sunday Schools, we would almost immediately fill up whatever classrooms are not being used. We currently have about seven classes that are maxed out, with no room to grow in the rooms where they meet. New classes need to be started. Where could we start new classes?
The most likely solutions to provide more adult space are very undesirable. We could put adult classes in the child-sized rooms of the Weekday Ministry Childcare Center, which would mean moving adult-sized chairs in and out of those classes every week. This would get tiresome and be very inconvenient.
Another solution would be to move the Weekday Ministry Childcare Center into the new preschool and children's educational building to share that space, and make the old Weekday Building into an adult Sunday School building. However, we understand that Sunday School workers in preschool and children's department wish to have their own space, no longer shared with the Weekday Ministry.
The other option is simply to stop growing in the adult Sunday School area. This is self-defeating. Why would we build a new building to make room for growth, and then put ourselves in a situation where we stagnate our growth potential?
* Need for preschool workers: Having two worship services and one Sunday School would increase the need for preschool volunteers, because we would need preschool workers for three hours, during early service, during Sunday School, and during the late service. Thus workers would be needed for three hours instead of for the current two hours at 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. Since we currently struggle to have enough preschool volunteers at two hours, it seems likely we would have even more problems getting enough workers for three hours, unless we hired nursery workers. This church has discussed the option of hired nursery workers in the past and has always rejected that suggestion.
The staff and Sunday School leadership discussed other pros and cons of one Sunday School, but primarily because of space problems for adults and because of the lack of preschool workers, the leadership feels that it would be unwise to change to one Sunday School at this time.

Option of two Sunday Schools
At the present time, we have a fully age-graded Sunday School at 9:00 a.m., and at 10:30 a.m. we have preschool Sunday School, children's church for grade school children, no youth Sunday School, and four adult Sunday School classes, and no senior adult Sunday School classes.
The church staff and Sunday School leadership feel that our best opportunity to grow is through strengthening our 10:30 a.m. Sunday School. We desire to recruit teachers and start additional classes at the second Sunday School, particularly for 4th and 5th grade (so that those children do not have to attend children's church) and for middle school and high school students. We also encourage new adult and senior adult Sunday School classes to be started at the 10:30 a.m. Sunday School.
We feel that our best option at this time is to continue the two Sunday Schools and to work to grow the second Sunday School. This does not require a vote of the church, since it involves no change of schedule. However, it does require the support of our membership. We believe that we need a renewed commitment to the teaching and serving ministry. There are members sitting in our classrooms who need to answer the call to teach God's Word in new Sunday School classes for children, youth and adults and to volunteer to teach preschoolers. We need members to tithe faithfully to support the expenses of this growing ministry. We need to step up to the plate of service and we need to step up to the offering plate. Effingham County is the fastest-growing county in south Georgia, with new families coming all the time. Will we step up to the plate to reach them for Christ and disciple them in His word?

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