Sunday School is not a place for efficiency. Parents (who are the primary customer) want effective results from our church’s youth programs. While some may use us as a babysitting service, the majority want positive steps forward in the development of their children’s character and behavior. If we fail to focus on the goal of spiritual and observable results we will most certainly slip into running the classrooms of our churches in an efficient and thus ineffective manner. The local church is no place for ineffective teachers. Here are a few signs that efficiency had over taken the goal of effectiveness.
- Teachers arrive just in time to teach
- Meticulous care is given to the number of handouts, chairs setup, snack set out etc…
- Overly zealous record keeping, learning checklists, and system management
- Teachers have little non-classroom connection with their kids
- Teachers hardly know any of the parents of their students (prevalent in bus ministries)
- Teachers meetings are centered on admin, discipline and curricula issues.
Making the 45 minutes of a program run smoothly is not what is needed. Efficiency experts can bring harmony out of chaos, but if we are not careful we will have a well oiled program that gets us nowhere. Our goal must be the spiritual and observable steps forward for each child. Here are a few things that can help your church change the world, one kid at a time.
- Learn How They Learn- Taking time to learn about children’s individual learning styles helps teachers to be more attuned to what they are doing. When a teacher begins to observe, analyze, and categorize their students there begins to be a bonding and adapting that benefits both parties. ReachKeep distributes an eBook written by Tim Tutton that give some simple descriptions and ideas that Sunday School teachers will find helpful. Learning Styles and Sunday School Kids Church leaders should include this type of training in their new teacher orientation, as well as in regular refresher training for Sunday School Teacher, Jr. Church Workers and even nursery level workers.
- Stop Teaching, Start Leading- One of the reasons we end up with academic goals over character based goals is we have created and followed the public school model. Our public schools are filled with “teachers” but not leaders. In many cases, public school teachers cannot lead in character development because that would require a moral basis for right and wrong. Our society has degraded to such an extent that even good and godly christians in the public sector have been restricted to just information transfer. But this is not true in the church world. We have the moral basis, the mandate and the expectations of the parents to “lead” their children to higher ground. We do not have the restrictions of a public system and we must not let them be our pattern. Following their lead gives us the following: straight rows of chairs, handout driven teaching, strict timetables, and even the title of “teacher”. While all of these can be OK, they can also become the management focus of the efficiency expert while our true goals fade into the background. Kids need and parents want leaders.
- Don’t be Lazy, Meet Like Crazy- One of our biggest blunders is we assume to much. As leaders we finally find someone to join us in the labors and we do not train them as we should. Over and over I have been disappointed by people who have not performed to my expectations, only to realize I had not made the expectations clear or attainable. The solution: meet more and talk more. Here are a few tips. #1 Put planning and review meetings on the calendar way in advance. #2 Have training meetings with specific topics. #3 Develop orientation curriculum and meetings that include goals and expectation. #4 Plan meals together with key leaders and predetermine the discussion points. #5 Plan student/parent reviews where moms and dads come in and discuss the progress of their children. #6 Plan lengthy offsite staff retreats for deeper direction goals.
It has been said that, managers manage “things” and leaders lead “people”. Sunday School teachers need not fail parents by focusing or managing the wrong things. A powerful church can come as a result of backing off of efficiency and relentlessly focusing on effectiveness.
Question: What do you feel is your greatest challenge concerning Sunday School effectiveness? Leave your comment below.
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