The laws of Sunday School were developed by Dr. J. N. Barnette. They were first published in his classic Sunday School work, The Pull of the People, (Convention Press, Nashville, Tenn., 1956). They have stood the test of time, and today are accepted by competent Sunday School leaders as a basic philosophy of Sunday School work. A thorough understanding of these will be invaluable to anyone who is in a leadership role in Sunday School.

The Laws are:

  1. The Law Relating to the Number of Workers.
    1. Enrollment increases in proportion to workers at a ratio of 1:10.
    2. Therefore, every time we add a new worker, we will add 10 to our enrollment within a brief period of time.
  2. The Law Relating to the Size of Classes.

 Classes reach their maximum growth or “saturation point” within 18-24 months after their beginning, unless new workers are added.
  3.  The Law Relating to New Units. New units grow faster, win more people to Christ, and provide more workers.
  4. The Law Relating to Grading.
    1. Grading by age provides the only practical and logical and logical basis for adding new working units.
    2. Grading locates responsibility for every person enrolled in the school.
    3. Grading locates neglected spans of life.
    4. Grading prevents temptation for Teacher-centered classes.
    5. Grading produces homogenous units.
    6. Grading anticipates advancement from one life stage to the others.
    7. Grading simplifies the teaching task.
    8. Grading prevents a static condition in a Sunday school.
    9. Grading breaks down imaginary social lines and class distinctions.
    10. Grading recognizes the supreme worth of every individual.
    11. Grading makes the organization of needed classes easy.
    12. Grading accelerates the growth of Sunday School by preventing classes from enlisting the easy prospects of all ages and neglecting the needy,
    13. Grading prevents the necessity of new members to choose between classes, which is frequently embarrassing and causes “drop-outs.”
    14. Grading furnishes places of service in the Sunday School for more adult church members.
    15. Grading furnishes fair and equitable distribution of prospects.
    16. Grading recognizes the natural stages of life and creates more effective ministry for them.
  5. The law relating to Promotion.
    1. Promotion recognizes the natural laws of growth and development.
    2. Biannual promotion is a necessary factor in keeping a Sunday School healthy.
  6. The law relating to Visitation.
    1. Enrollment and attendance increase in proportion to the number of personal visits made.
    2. People can be influenced to attend Sunday School by visitation and ministry to them.
  7. The Law Relation to the Building.
    1. The Sunday school becomes organized according to the shape of the building – – the building sets the pattern of the Sunday school.
    2. A Sunday school cannot grow beyond the capacity of the building. There is a high correlation between square footage of available space and growth of the Sunday School.
About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.

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