Question for members of Large churches

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Salty, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. Salty

    Salty
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    I have a question for those who attend large churches.

    (for the purpose of this thread, we will consider a church of a regular weekly attendance of 500+ as a large church)


    In your Adult Sunday School, do you have several classes, or is one in which the pastor "preaches" to the sole adult class?

    In a SS class of more than 50 adult attendees, is the teacher more of a lecture or is there a fair amount of discussion between the teacher and attendees?

    FTR, our church has a total attendance of about 20, so we definitely do not fall into the large category.

    Thanks in advance -

    Salty
     
  2. JonC

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    I attend a church that has about 900 in attendance. My Sunday school consists of about 15 people.
    The pastor preaches the sermon, but there are several Sunday school classes.
     
  3. drfuss

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    Our church has about 1800 every Sunday. We have three services and a number of Bible study classes during each service. We have many on staff, but all of our teachers are laymen. We have found that 40 is about the cross over number where below 40 we can have discussion and above 40, only lecture lessons will work. A class above 40 which insists on discussion will soon be below 40 since the discussion tends to get out of hand and people will go to other classes.
     
  4. drfuss

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    After thinking on this, perhaps I should elaborate on the above. In our class, we have times for open discussion. No one is called on to give their opinion. In our class of about 40, we have only about 4 or 5 people who regularily volunteer comments during times for discusions. Some come with comments prepared.

    We have people who don't want any discussion; and we have those who want a lot of discussion. Those who don't want any discussion are not interested in hearing about how people feel about things. The want to learn something. Those who want discussion tend to want to give thier feelings about things. I personally try to have mostly lecture with a few open discussion times.

    We have had people leave our class and go to another class, because they did not want to hear so many opinions during the discussion time.
     
  5. Van

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    I attend a large church, i.e. more than 500. We have two Sunday services in our main auditorium, and at the same times, in one of our classrooms an adult class meets. These "small groups" each have about 20-25 attendees, and are for folks over (I think) 50 years. Now during the week, we have many small groups, i.e Men's bible study, Young adults, etc. All our small groups are led by volunteers and their topic and discussion questions are based on the Sunday service sermon.

    But, because there is no time for study for the two groups meeting on Sunday, they study other material, such as a study of a NT book. But one or two of the main points are mentioned to reinforce the instruction given in the sermon.

    This is a new approach for this year, and time will tell if we continue it next year. It is an effort at avoiding the idea that you just receive on Sunday but never study and discuss and hopefully grow because of the lack of opportunity to participate.
     
    #5 Van, Mar 11, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2012
  6. glfredrick

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    I am not currently in a large church (membership right now is around 65) but I have just come out of two large congregations in Louisville, one with about 3000 attenders on any given Sunday who met on 3 (now 4) separate campuses and over 6 (now 7) services and the other ran about 2400 who met in two main and one auxillary (college) services.

    In the first we had NO Sunday school at all. No intent to ever have Sunday school as a part of the gathered church ministry. But that church had something BETTER. Community Group meetings in homes led by pastoral-level staff, of which I was one. We gathered in groups from between 8 and 20 or so on a weekly basis, and would raise up new leadership from within individual groups by discipleship and mentorship/apprenticship means then halve the group when it got too large creating two new groups. Typically, the subject matter was last Sunday's sermon, plus any other special need that the individual group might have had, which included anything from pastoral counseling to church discipline to proper parenting skills to doctrinal studies. There were 23 pastors in this church (divided among the 4 campuses, though all served through one ministry) and none of them were group leaders or group teachers except for special projects such as Pastor's School for potential new pastors.

    In the second, we had a more traditional Sunday school (where I was a teacher) and class sizes ran from a mere handful to over 100, depending on the individual teacher. There was a single pastor who did not teach any classes whatsoever. In fact, he rarely met with any church members at all if he could avoid that. He had paid staff that handled that for him, as well as a rather well developped deacon ministry as well. I taught one of the larger classes (100+ though seldom were all there on any given Sunday, average attendance was between 75-85). I taught partially by lecture in that I introduced the topic and taught through it for about 15 minutes, then we opend to class discussion for the balance of the hour. Discussion time was often interesting as there was a wide range of doctrinal stances involved at that church.

    In my current congregation, I am the senior pastor and we just presented another new man who is called of God to become a pastoral leader in our church this morning. It is too soon to call him a pastor, but he is an apprentice for the position and I will be building him into a leader in the Paul/Timothy model. Another man surrendered two weeks ago for some aspect of ministry work, but I have not began the interview process with him so I have not presented him to the congregation. God is moving in our midst, and I am pleased! I do not teach Sunday school, but have another man who is a great teacher who teaches all the adults in one single class (runs around 20). I am early on in this church so there will be changes down the road, probably will start community groups etc.

    BTW, my teacher is a world famous escape artist and has quite an evangelistic ministry. He is such an unnasuming fellow that unless one actually knew that he gets tossed from airplane in chains, one would never suspect that he is a wild man at heart. I have been blessed to inherit him and his ministry!
     
  7. JonC

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    glfredrick,

    Of the two large church experiences that you have mentioned, did you see any definite pros and cons of each approach to small (smaller) group discipleship?
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    FTR, where I serve we run between 4000-4500 on Sundays. So its a large church. Since we have a multi-generational ministry we utilize a multi-platform approach to groups. We have groups that meet on Sundays and throughout the week. They meet on campus or in homes. They run from 10 to 100 members. We also provide a number of specialty classes outside of our regular groups model. We currently have a 85% participation in groups on a weekly basis.

    Though members of our staff might lead a group but our pastors don't teach a sole adult group. On Sundays we have four services during which groups meet at one hour and attend at another. So, logistically, we aren't set up to provide such an environment.

    We emphasize a discussion. You can have a discussion (at various levels) in any class. Though the larger classes will inevitably revolve a single communicator, our goal for all our groups is to open the dialogue component of formation. We believe the greatest moments for spiritual formation don't happen in the worship services but in our groups. We want to emphasize this.

    Good question :thumbsup:
     
  9. glfredrick

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    The Community Group process was magnitudes of difference better than the standard Sunday school. The Sunday school in the other church reached about 15% of the adult membership. The CG reached over 80% of the membership of Sojourn, and the level of growth was that much higher as well.

    In the CG, Sojourn effectively took a mega-church and made it small and neighborhood oriented. That meant that virtually every member had someone who was there to counsel, teach, disciple, minster, fellowship, pray, and as a sure guide into the practice of the church in the community and in the kingdom. That is virtually all missing in the standard SS model, where people come for a donut, coffee, an all-too-brief lesson, and they a lot of gossip or an argument about some point of doctrine (and I am recounting ALL of the SS that I have been involved with over the past 30 years in my assessment of SS).

    The CG were EXPECTED to grow then to split into a new neighborhood, and it was a very intentional process. We used maps to target neighborhoods and proceeded to work to make sure that there was a CG in every neighborhood in the city. That effort is ongoing, but it is working! We even asked people to MOVE to another area of the city to make it work -- and they did!

    What I have found overall, is that churches with SS see how well small groups work, and then they try to tack on small groups plus SS. People eventually get weary of spending all their free time in church-related activities and so one or the other gets set by the wayside.

    At Sojourn, because the CG concept was SO ingrained into the mission of the church, there was NO other gathering of the entire church other than the one service of worship (well, actually 2 services -- each member was EXPECTED to attend one and work at another!). No Wednesday night, no Sunday night (there are regular worship services, but they are the same as Sunday AM -- just additonal offerings of the same service, which run all day long). CG replace all the other services of the church and because of that are well attended and effective. The pastoral-level leadership is also a good model. People get their primary pastoral care in CG, and if they respond during the "gathered" service, they WILL be directed to a CG for further ministry efforts. There are two phases of Sojourn -- gathered and scattererd -- everything falls under one of those phases. Either primary service of gathered worship or the church scattered into the community ministering to those outside the walls of the church. EXPLOSIVE TRUE gospel growth with that model!
     
  10. Squidward

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    My church averages about 700 per week over three services. We do not have SS. We have home teams that meet Sunday evenings in various homes and have dinner and a lesson that way. This allows members of the church to get to know each other really closely. It's way too easy to get lost in a large church. One big reason why I'm glad we try to keep our congregations small.
     

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