As summer heats up, it seems like we are on the verge of “normalcy.” Emerging from the pandemic, churches are reopening their Bible study groups again.
Lifeway Research recently reported that 91% of churchgoers are planning on returning to their pre-pandemic attendance levels. This is great news for the church, especially since some people have predicted a more than 30% decline because of the pandemic.
Now is the time for churches to rediscover Flake’s Formula. In a post-pandemic world, this simple 5-step formula can help churches get back to the essentials that grow a Bible-teaching ministry.
Lifeway Research recently reported that 91% of churchgoers are planning on returning to their pre-pandemic attendance levels.
Who was Arthur Flake?
Arthur Flake is considered the “father of the modern-day Sunday school.” In 1920, just as the Spanish flu pandemic was ending, the Southern Baptist Convention hired Flake to become its first Sunday school superintendent. He had grown the Sunday school of the First Baptist Church of Wynona, Mississippi, and he had a passion for education and evangelism.
Flake had also been a successful businessman in Wynona. He owned or co-owned three businesses, and he sold them all to accept the Lord’s calling to serve at the Sunday school Board. Using his business acumen, he helped churches grow through their Bible study groups, beginning in 1920.
Flake was a product of the scientific management theory that was popular in his day. As the U.S. became less rural and more industrialized, and as people moved from farms to factories, managers in those factories needed to help their workers become as efficient as possible.
Scientific management theory was concerned with getting work done efficiently, and Flake took his knowledge of Sunday school and scientific management theory and applied both of them to church life. This is how he created what we know today as his 5-step formula for building a strong Sunday School ministry.
If you’re not familiar with Flake’s Formula, here are his 5 steps:
Step 1: Know Your Possibilities
There are underserved people in our communities, and perhaps even in our churches. As you look at the kinds of groups your church offers, you may discover there are gaps.
Step 2: Enlarge the Organization
Once you know your possibilities, it’s time to enlarge the organization. This is a paper and pen exercise in which you map out your new and expanded groups that includes the underserved people you identified.
Step 3: Enlist and Train Workers
Enlistment should always be done in person; try not to make “all-call” pulpit announcements. Meet with each potential new worker, give them curriculum resources to look over, explain the essentials of the work you are calling them to do, answer their questions, and give them time to pray.
Step 4: Provide the Space
Now that you’ve seen the possibilities for growing your Sunday school, mapped out a new organization, and recruited and trained your new leaders, you must provide a space in which these groups will meet. You may have empty rooms, or you may have to start a second Sunday School hour. A third possibility is to start new groups on other days of the week and at different times than your Sunday morning groups. A lack of space keeps many Sunday Schools from realizing their growth potential.
Step 5: Go After the People
The church family can help promote the new groups through their social media channels, and the church can provide these new group leaders with names of potential members. According to a Lifeway Research study, the number one reason people attend a Bible study group is the invitation of a group member or the leader of the group. Nothing else is as important as a personal invitation.