Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Ongoing Power of a 95-year-old Formula


Sometimes when I need to gather my thoughts, I will go to a space where I can be surrounded by reminders of LifeWay’s history. In the middle of one display is Arthur Flake’s journal. Flake was a businessman and volunteer church leader from Winona, Mississippi. In 1920, he became the first leader of the Sunday School division at LifeWay (then the Baptist Sunday School Board). One of the first things he did was establish a set of standards that painted a picture of an effective Sunday School. The journal on display at the LifeWay building contains Flake’s notes for establishing that standard.

The journal is opened to a significant page (see image above) that includes a list of actions that would become known as Flake’s Formula. The formula eventually evolved to these points:
  • Know the possibilities
  • Enlarge the organization
  • Enlist and train leaders
  • Provide space and resources
  • Go after the people
The men who followed Flake (Gaines Dobbins, J. N. Barnette, Othal Feather, A. V. Washburn, Harry Piland, Bill Taylor, and now David Francis) built upon this formula. Flake’s formula was the impetus for much of the growth of Southern Baptist Sunday School in the 20th century.

Read more of Part 1 and be sure to follow the links to Parts 2, 3, and 4 of this great treatment of Flake's Formula.