How You Can Train (Apprentice) Potential Sunday School Leaders

Monday 6th October, 2008

During this past weekend, I spent some time helping some Sunday School leaders understand the importance of multiplying themselves. We must prepare and send more workers into the harvest. The main reason we don't have more classes (and people) in Sunday School, is that we have not prepared more teachers and workers.

I read an interesting blog entry by Sue Mallory entitled Turbocharging Your Volunteers. She shares about a leader helping another individual move from inactive to very involved. While the setting is different, her four key principles also apply to training (apprenticing) potential Sunday School leaders. Want to know how to apprentice potential leaders? I will share Mallory's four principles in all capitals followed by my commentary applying them to the adult Sunday School class:

  • IDENTIFY THE REAL PERSON. Help him/her to see the potential. Lead him/her to recognize how gifts, experiences, and personality, and passions can be released in a specific Sunday School role. I like the suggestion of allowing the person to sample opportunities to serve. Ask him/her to serve in small ways to see how they respond and to give you opportunity to affirm. Mallory also encourages discovering more about the person through a relaxed setting such as lunch.
  • DRAW THEM INTO THE MINISTRY TEAM. Help him/her to see the difference that Sunday School makes. Share your vision. Share the importance and potential impact of serving in a Sunday School role as a teacher, care group leader, greeter, outreach leader, fellowship leader, secretary, or other Sunday School leader. Ask him/her to join you when you have a class leader retreat so that he/she can see how the team works together. I like Mallory's suggestion: "Make sure your volunteers know when and where you'll be available when they need coaching."
  • HELP THEM GROW AS INDIVIDUALS. Share your high expectations, and as Mallory puts it "pull your volunteers toward growth." Expect a lot. Hold him/her accountable. Check on assignments and how he/she is doing in the Sunday School role. Mallory suggests these actions: nurture their faith, help them set boundaries, encourage them to take charge, and help them to ease up when they need to do so. He also encourages releasing a potential leader when the ministry does not fit or he/she is not setting the right example.
  • GIVE THEM THE KNOW-HOW TO ASSURE SUCCESS. This calls for you to break the Sunday School role into its important elements. Make sure to give him/her exposure to every important aspect. In fact, a checklist may ensure that you won't forget one or more task. Show the task while he/she observes. Do tasks together. Let him/her do the task while you observe. Debrief each time. I like suggestions that Mallory shared: keep training brief, can the lecture, teach outside the church walls, discover who [adults] are today, go online, role play difficult situations he/she may face, and act as a mirror for him/her. After a Sunday School service opportunity, help him/her to reflect on what happened and why it was important.

Begin now praying that God will help you to identify a potential apprentice--otherwise you may miss many with great potential. Who is God placing on your heart? Identify his/her potential. Draw them into the class, task, and team. Help him/her to grow. Provide bite-sized practical training. Release him/her into the harvest. Encourage. Support. Be revolutionary!

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