I talk to Sunday School teachers often who complain they cannot get people to step up to a position of leadership. No one wants to serve. No one is willing to "do anything." We can do so much more together than alone.
Before responding to these teachers, I usually ask one or more of these questions: Have you asked for specific roles to be filled? How have you asked, publically or privately? Did you pray before enlisting? Did you ask the class to be in prayer for who will assume the responsibility? What have you done personally to prepare people to take on new roles?
Let me say that it helps for the class to be exposed to higher and higher expectations over a period of time. But high expectations must be preceded by prayer and an understanding of "ownership" of the work the class must accomplish. The class must understand that the teacher cannot do all the work. In fact, the class benefits by involvement and investment in the work. Consider the counsel of Jethro to his son-in-law, Moses.
In response to the above questions, there are often indicators of why there is a leadership vacuum in the class. Let's examine responses to each question:
- Have you asked for specific roles to be filled? Sometimes there has been no attempt to enlist for a specific responsibility. If it is everyone's responsibility, no one will often do it. Enlist to a job. Make sure there is understanding of why the role is needed and how it will contribute to the work of the class.
- How have you asked, publically or privately? Frequently, teachers respond that they asked the class on Sunday. They complain they are busy and say that is the fastest way. But no one responds. In reality, each person in the class expects someone else to do it. Enlisting privately makes it a personal issue and response.
- Did you pray before enlisting? Enlisting the first person that comes to your mind is not the best approach. Your mind may have seen skills and personality that might lend themselves to doing the job well, but your mind may also have simply selected a "popular" person. Pray for God to lead you to the individual He desires to carry out the responsibility. Don't be surprised when it is someone unexpected.
- Did you ask the class to be in prayer for who will assume the responsibility? It is helpful to sensitize the class to the need for the responsibility to be carried out. They can join you in prayer, and they will be more sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit in their own lives in response to the need.
- What have you done personally to prepare people to take on new roles? Don't overlook this one. Take people with you to make visits. Give contact assignments. Ask for help in teaching part or all of the lesson. Ask for help with a fellowship. Take people with you as you carry out the work. Over time, involve as many class members as you can. Watch how they respond. This will sensitize your heart and mind to the person the Holy Spirit may be pointing out for a needed role. It may also give the individual confidence to step up, especially if you point out what you have observed as they have served.
For more ideas about increasing class involvement, check out these blog posts:
- Grow Your Sunday School by Maintainin g Great Connections, Part 2
- Sunday School/Small Groups Making Disciples the Way Jesus Did
- Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelled W-O-R-K, Part 2
- Ten Values of Monthly Sunday School Fellowships
- Sunday School Teaching Methods for Impacting Discipleship, Part 1 and Sunday School Teaching Methods for Impacting Discipleship, Part 2
- Measures of Assimilation in an Adult Sunday School Class
- The Big Four to Be a Sticky Sunday School Class, Part 1 and The Big Four to Be a Sticky Sunday School Class, Part 2
- Blessings and Dangers from Coteaching Sunday School
- Actions to Plug the Leaks in Your Sunday School, Part 2 and Actions to Plug the Leaks in Your Sunday School, Part 3
- Sixth Step Toward Sunday School Class Change: Ownership
- Diagnosing Your Sunday School’s Assimilation of New Members
- Be Proactive, Not Reactive, in Your Sunday School Assimilation Efforts!
- Sunday School: Leading People to Have and Obey Jesus’ Commands