“I’m just a Sunday School teacher.” you might say. Many Sunday School teachers, and perhaps many more Sunday School class participants think that all a Sunday School teacher is supposed to do is teach the lesson. To be sure, teaching the lesson is a major part of the responsibility. “Studying God’s Word Together” is one of our core values. But another responsibility of leaders in a growing Sunday School is to develop more leaders.
In Sunday School, we build disciples. As we build disciples, we must be prayerfully looking for men and women who have the giftings which would equip them to take a step out into leadership on their own. As you seek to identify and assist these individuals to grow, here are three keys to keep in mind.
1. Consider your own experience. You are a Sunday School leader. How did you get there? Was there someone who saw something special in you and challenged you to live up to it? Did someone ask you to take on a responsibility, and then guide you as you rose to the occasion? Perhaps you felt the call and talked to someone about taking a step towards leadership. After you consider how you got to where you are, as yourself these questions. Who have you asked to take on responsibility that will guide them where God wants them to be? Do you have the kind of relationships with people that would foster someone feeling comfortable enough to talk with you about their callings? Do you look at your class roster and regularly think about how you can stretch certain people into leadership? As a Sunday School leader, we need you to be thinking about these things.
2. Consider who asks you insightful questions or has good suggestions. Leaders are thinkers and problem solvers. Who can you think of in your class that offers suggestions to improve the experience of others? The people who are naturally thinking about those things need to be given responsibility and opportunity to grow. Would they be good care group leaders, or fellowship coordinators? Who can you think of in your class that regularly makes great points or asks relevant and insightful questions? People who are naturally wrestling with the scripture text and lessons in this way may have the gifting to become teachers themselves. Talk with me or your department director about using such people as a substitute teacher some time.
3. Pray for guidance. The development of disciples and future church leaders is a spiritual process. God has placed the seeds for these things in people’s hearts, and He makes those seeds grow. Pray that God will give you the insight and ideas to effectively nurture those seeds, and stretch people. Often God will inspire you to call someone out to leadership tasks that they don’t feel ready for, but need to be. Never be pushy, or overbearing, but prayerfully nurture what God has prompted you to affirm. Offer people specific insights into the things they naturally do well, and ask them if God has prompted them to take that gift to the next level. There are few blessings in leadership more rewarding than helping someone discover God’s calling in their lives.
Finally, please share your insights with Clint, Leroy, and myself. We are always interested in people who want to be used as the Sunday School ministry grows. God has big things in store for us, and to realize those big things we need to be identifying and training new leaders. Plans are in the works to offer a regular 6 week course to train, equip, and inspire future Sunday School teachers. Your thoughts and suggestions will fuel who is a part of that course. It will also be available to current leaders who want to brush up on things. I am so excited about what God has in store for us. Thank you for all you do, and I am always here to talk with you about any of these things. Have a great week!