Too often "warm bodies" are enlisted as Sunday School teachers. What do I mean? I mean the nominating committee, team, or individual approaches a potential teacher candidate without prayer, hands him/her a teacher book, and tells them they are needed. The candidate has not prayed and feels pressured (or worse, guilted) into accepting. The candidate's gifts, passions, personality, or experience don't match. And most of all, they sense no call from God to serve in that capacity.
Sometimes these individuals have a compassionate heart. They really care that there is a need, and they want to help. Sometimes they don't know how to say "no," even when they need to do so. And occasionally they are able to do an acceptable job because they are surrounded by capable people. But how much impact is lost because the "best" person is not enlisted? How much is lost because a qualified person is not serving? How much is lost because a God-called person is not following His lead with His people?
What qualifications should a Sunday School teacher possess? What qualifications should a nominating committee, team, or individual seek in a teacher? There are lists of them in many printed and online resources about Sunday School. One list was put together by Elmer Towns in a free online resource called How to Grow an Effective Sunday School. On page 48, Towns shares teacher qualifications. In Part 1, I will share the first nine qualifications which I have listed in all capitals followed by my brief commentary:
- PERSONAL SALVATION. This should not be assume. Ask him/her to share her testimony, including how God is active in his/her life today.
- THE GIFT OF TEACHING (EPHESIANS 4:11). If the gift of teaching is absent, other spiritual gifts needed by the class should be present.
- A THOROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORD OF GOD (2 TIMOTY 3:15-17). This is preferred, or at least the beginning of a thorough knowledge along with a strong desire to learn more.
- DAILY DEVOTIONS CONSISTING OF PRAYER AND BIBLE STUDY. While this should be an expectation of every believer, nothing less should be acceptable from those who will teach God's Word to others.
- REGULAR CHURCH ATTENDANCE (HEBREWS 10:25). Only in the case of physical limits should a teacher be allowed to serve who does not attend the worship service.
- PLANNING AND ADMINISTRATIVE ABILITY. The teacher is key to carrying out the work of the class. In some cases, capable administrators are present and/or already enlisted and serving in the classes. In that case, the teacher should be visibly supportive.
- LEADERSHIP QUALITIES, THE ABILITY TO INSPIRE CONFIDENCE. Leadership is taking a group where they need to go. If they aren't following, then the teacher is not leading.
- VISION, THE ABILITY TO VIEW THE JOB OBJECTIVELY AND NOT BECOME DISCOURAGED IN IT (PHILIPPIANS 3:13-14). Spending time daily with God and getting to know attenders weekly and through home visits and fellowships, will help the teacher to understand what should be worked toward together.
- ABILITY TO EXPRESS HIMSELF AND COMMUNICATE. This ability is more than teaching. The teacher needs to listen well, talk, and speak one-on-one, in meetings, and in other interactions.