By: Deborah Bell Rodahaffer
Eighteen years as a Director of Christian of Education, mentoring Christian educators, and today, as Minister for Parish Life, have taught me that recruiting Sunday School teachers and all who serve should begin in prayer. I pray that God will send me the right person for the position. When a candidate does come my way, I ask that person to pray about his or her commitment to this ministry. Some Children’s Ministries put a notice in their church bulletin to recruit teachers. However, I have found that “scouting” for teachers has worked in my ministry. What I mean by this, is I observe prospective candidates for several weeks and see how they interact with children and adults. If they have good people skills and a servant’s heart, I invite them to serve. I prefer candidates who have been active in the church for at least a year. Think outside of the box when looking for teachers. Some of the best Sunday School teachers I know are lawyers, artists, gardeners, librarians, college-aged parishioners, and dads.
I find that a one on one meeting in one of the church meeting rooms is the best environment for both you and the candidate to discern if this is the ministry for them. Here is a guideline for what I cover.
Candidates may be reluctant to accept position because they do not feel “qualified”. Remind candidates that with God’s help everything is possible and that you prayerfully considered the candidate for the position before you approached them. Together you will make the experience of teaching young children exceptional for students and teachers. Accept the candidate’s “yes” or “no” response with love knowing that you both entered this process of teaching/leading children through the power of prayer and through that, the decision will be the right one for both of you.
PARENTS AS SUPPORT
Do not ask a parent to teach in his or her child’s class. Unless a mom or dad of young children has a real desire to teach, allow them to be involved in other church ministries until their children are older. Do encourage parents to be part of a Sunday School support ministry that can help you outside of the classroom. This team is vital in helping purchase supplies, pre-prepare arts and crafts activities, providing snacks, and hosting events for teachers.
Maintaining and helping your teachers to grow in their ministry is as important as finding the right people to teach. The following ideas may work in your ministry, they worked in mine:
It is important to commission church school teachers in front of the congregation the Sunday before or the Sunday church school begins. The Rector/Minister and Christian Formation Director should participate in the Commissioning. As teachers we are evangelizers and this critical role should be elevated. Other means of recognizing teachers is by highlighting their ministry with bulletin board displays with photos and short bios (include comments from children and parents) or including them in newsletters that go out to the congregation. Send notes or cards to your teachers (birthdays, anniversary of teaching start date) or small gifts from time to time. Say “thank you” every chance you have because that is the best way to honor anyone’s ministry.
Debbi Rodahaffer served as Director of Christian Formation for children, youth, and adults at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Louisville, KY, for eighteen years. She currently serves as Minister for Parish Life at The Episcopal Church of the Advent, Louisville. During her twenty years in lay ministry, Debbi served as president of Forma: the network for Christian Formation, and as a three-time deputy to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. In the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky, she served as chair of the Christian Formation Ministry, on All Saints’ Conference Center board, on the Standing Committee, and on The Commission of Ministry. Debbi currently serves on Kanuga Conference Center’s Christian Formation Conference Planning Team and hopes to have an opportunity to talk with you about all things formation and hospitality next June 2019 at Kanuga, Hendersonville, NC.
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By Brooke Holt, Adult Curriculum Specialist
I am one of those strange people who absolutely loves a good challenge. At least twice a year, I sign up for a challenge to work out six times a week, five workouts in the gym and one workout on my own. These are not easy workouts; they are specifically designed to challenge the participants physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Some days it is easy to make it to my workouts. Some days it is just not. In fact, this morning was one of those days I could have missed the workout for a hundred reasons. BUT, I have no margin in my schedule this week, so I awoke at 5:00 in the morning to make the 5:45am class. It was painful, but I did it. And you know what? I felt great after the class. There is something to be said about discipline and commitment.
The health industry is pushing people to learn new disciplines which strengthen and heal the body. Is the church encouraging its people to learn new disciplines which strengthen and heal the soul? There is something unique about a challenge, about accountability, about being pushed beyond what you would normally do on your own. There is also something special about community formed in a challenge.
This Lent, I challenge you to take on a 40 Day Lenten discipline! What would it look like for you to invite your church, your small group, your friends into a 40 Day Challenge with you? Bible Study Media understands the power of a Lenten study and has provided resources for you. Consider The Crucified Life. What does it mean to die to self in order to live to Christ? Or take on the challenge of Draw Near and learn what it means to live a life of worship. Each of these studies has 7 weeks of daily devotional readings, plus weekly small group questions and online video teachings.
The resurrection of Jesus takes on even greater meaning after 40 days of discipline and sacrifice. This Lent, I would love to support you in your own discipline, your own challenge. Let me help you find the right study for your church, your small group, or yourself.
I am at the end of my 40 day health challenge. I feel strong, accomplished, and awakened to new possibilities in my life. In fact, I am already thinking about my next challenge. While the process of transformation is not easy, it is so good. My ultimate desire is to look more like Jesus. In order to reach that goal, I need daily transformation!
What transformation does God want to do in you this Lent? My coaching hat is on, and I am ready to walk this challenge with you. 40 days of discipline really can change your life.
Imagine for a moment the impact on your church if for 40 days every person in your congregation lived in alignment with God’s will in the pattern of Jesus’ call to pick up our cross and follow him. What if your people lived in powerful community with their small groups to discuss and pray over lives sacrificed to God? What if, as groups and individual people began to experience the power of God in their lives as they surrendered all to Jesus Christ?
By intentionally coordinating and aligning the elements of your Lenten season using The Crucified Life materials, you will make an environment for spiritual growth that will move your congregation from self to surrender.
By aligning the following three elements of participation, you will see the power of God working in your church because of the intentional focus on the heart of the Gospel and the grace offered in the cross of Jesus Christ:
By creating a singular Lenten focus on what it means to “pick up our cross” and follow Jesus in the way of the Crucified Life, the entire congregation is called to a Holy Lent together. This unified focus will burst forth in new life with the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday!