When a Sunday School Teacher Has an Emergency, Part 2

Tuesday 17th January, 2017
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In Part 1 of this two-part series, I shared a recent experience of filling in for a teacher who had a last-minute emergency. I don't hold up the way I responded as the only or ideal way to respond. This is true for three reasons: (1) churches are unique, (2) situations are unique, and (3) leaders are unique.

In Part 2, I want to share a few options for responding when last-minute crises occur. Consider the following:
  • SMALL: in a small Sunday School (five or fewer classes), the Sunday School director may be prepared to step into any class with a need
  • SMALL: in a small Sunday School (five or fewer classes), the Sunday School director may be called to enlist a replacement
  • SUB FOR EACH CLASS: keep working until every teacher has enlisted at least one person who can fill in at the last-minute if necessary (ideally with advance notice)
  • SUB FOR EACH AGE GROUP: enlist a list of leaders for each age group (preschool, children, youth, and adult) from which a teacher may contact when needed
  • COMBINE: combine that class with another for that Sunday (when space and the required leader ratio allows); this should not be the perpetual response since it can lead to attendance decline
  • SAME LITERATURE: keep in mind that substitution (even at the last minute) is always easiest if every teacher in an age group is using the same type of literature
  • CO-TEACHER: if a teacher has declining health or frequent emergencies, enlist a co-teacher or apprentice teacher who will be ready every week

My experience has taught me a few things. First, if a teacher does not have someone who can fill in for him/her when needing to be away, the teacher will burn out and quit. Second, if teachers all contact an intermediary (Sunday School director or staff person), complications can occur. Third, it is best if the teacher has direct contact with more than one substitute option who is comfortable filling in at the last-minute. (Sometimes the first choice is not available.)

What would you add to the options I shared? What has worked for you? God and His people deserve our best effort. Nothing less will do. Be prepared even for emergencies. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about growing your Sunday School, check out these posts:

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