I have many fond memories of Sunday School as a child. Then as a teenager and young adult I transitioned to youth group and small groups or discipleship groups. Some of my teachers and leaders made a meaningful impact on my life, but let’s be honest, others left me confused. The leaders that stick out in my memory were ones that were willing to invest time into relationship with me and seemed both confident and passionate about what they were teaching.
The teachers that I haven’t forgotten didn’t necessarily pass on information that I still remember but rather left an impression that has lasted. We want our teachers/leaders to have this same kind of positive, long-lasting impact on the children, youth, and adults in our congregation. The question is, what can we do to make sure they have the opportunity to make that impact?
Very few volunteers naturally and automatically know how to be great teachers or small group leaders. Many may have never had a strong Sunday School teacher themselves, but they want to do a good job and are willing to give up their time to invest in the Kingdom. As leaders we need to make sure we put the tools in their hands and equip them with the training they need to be difference makers.
The resources they have in strong curriculum is important. However, you can equip them with curriculum and still have zero impact. Our leaders need to be empowered and trained to understand how to connect with the people in their groups, how to build healthy relationships with the members and between the members, how to create conversation and facilitate when appropriate rather than always leading, and how to handle hard conversations.
Training our leaders takes some time and possibly even monetary investment, but the dividends will be great!
- You will see people excited to be part of the class or group because the teaching and leadership facilitates growth.
- Attendance will improve because people will see value in being present and involved.
- Your leaders will be consistent and continue to serve because they are experiencing successes.
- Strong relationships are created through healthy groups, and this creates a cycle of growth.
Training does not have to expensive or complicated. Here are some great ways to provide training for your leaders:
1) Have a one-day event where you invite several teachers from your own church that have had positive teaching experiences to share their tips.
2) Invite a few leaders from your denomination to come give some specific training
3) Ask some local school teachers to come for an afternoon and give pointers on classroom management and teaching tips.
4) Invite a local counselor to come and discuss some positive ways to communicate with difficult people and also how to set appropriate boundaries in a group.
5) Give training and biblical guidance specifically addressing the curriculum for that season. Make sure they have all of the resources they need.
6) Have a round table discussion and address specific questions from your teachers.
The good news is that just a little bit of solid training can go a long way toward making both a successful group and a dynamic teacher. Our teachers want to do well and want to truly connect with the individuals in their groups. The more tools we can put in their toolboxes, the more successful they will be.
What training do you have planned for your leaders this fall?