One of the struggles many churches face in Sunday School is finding new workers. Let me share a few tips to help you prepare members to say “yes” to service in Sunday School.
Have an Apprentice program. As I lead Sunday School training sessions in churches, one of my first tasks is to help general officers & teachers realize the value/need to enlist an apprentice in all aspects of Sunday School work. People are facing time constraints in all areas of their lives. It is important to help teachers prepare other teachers for times of vacation, sickness, emergencies and a break. Teachers should be asked to find someone else in the class that they can mentor to fill in. After a year they may teach the class, rotate teaching in the class or start a new class.
The key is allowing the teacher to invest in another person in the class. Help them know how to study the Scriptures, prepare a lesson and build relationships with others in the class. It is allowing the person to walk alongside you in the process as Jesus did with the disciples. Mike Breen & Steve Cockram in Building a Discipling Culture demonstrate this idea of discipling in four steps with a life shape: the Square. The four steps are:
I do-you watch: Allow the apprentice to see you prepare for a lesson and teach it. Watching on their part is not a passive endeavor, as they focus on your teaching style and the responses of class members.
I do-you help: Teach the lesson, but allow the apprentice to have one part of the teaching session.
You do-I help: Be there and support the apprentice as they teach for the first time. Make plans to have one part of the lesson for yourself.
You do-I watch: They lead the lesson, but you watch supportively.
In each of these steps, it is best to meet with the apprentice before the session to prepare as well as a time to debrief after the lesson. This same tool can be used to help train general officers, care group leaders and outreach leaders. The key is support/encouragement and challenge.
Tips for finding teachers:
Consider people who help with Vacation Bible School. Persons who help with crafts and other parts of VBS are prime persons to consider asking to be an apprentice. Perhaps they are not ready for this commitment, but are willing to help with a craft and get to know the children or youth.
Consider school teachers. Teachers already have skills and learning practices which can help train SS teachers, and are excellent apprentices.
Consider giving persons one book of the Bible to teach. Some churches are having success getting persons to agree to teach one book of the Bible for a year. They rotate among adult classes each quarter. They feel more competent, because they are teaching the same lessons each quarter.
Train teachers to start Bible studies at other times. For some the challenge becomes twofold: They want to be in their class on Sunday mornings, or they can’t always be there on Sunday mornings. They may be thrilled to teach a class online at night by video conference for college students who are away from home or teach a class in their home. For Bible study to become a priority for people, we need to offer it at others times. Let the Spirit lead you to new ways to reach people for Bible study.