Archive for Training – Page 2

Train your Replacement

This is 30 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School.


I remember my first meeting with the Sunday School Director at my new church. He said, “We know we need to start new classes, but we are facing the age-old question: where do you get the leaders?” I responded, “There is a reason it is the age-old question, no one has answered it, and I don’t have an answer either.” He stared at me, shaking his head with disappointment. “However, the Bible never asks that question,” I said. “The Bible is filled with examples of leaders training new leaders.” The question is, “Are your leaders developing new leaders?”

The Bible gives numerous examples of training your replacement: Elijah and Elisha, Jesus with the disciples, Paul and Timothy, and Timothy with faithful men. Training leaders capable of taking the reins of ministry should be a focal point of leaders according to Ephesians 4. Each of these Biblical leaders gives us some insight in training a replacement; prayerful enlistment, personal preparation, participatory development, and a plan for multiplication.

Elijah – How do I know who I should enlist?
There are several unforgettable scenes in the life of Elijah such as the fire of God falling at Mount Carmel and Elijah’s whirlwind ride to heaven. Another unforgettable scene took place at Horeb where Elijah felt he was the only leader left. Perhaps this is the Old Testament rendition of ‘where do you get the leaders’ as Elijah believed he was the last in his line of prophets. God sent a strong wind, a powerful earthquake, and a blistering fire, but He was not found by Elijah in any of the three elements. Then there was a gentle whisper, and Elijah heard the voice of God. God assured Elijah that he was not alone and sent him to anoint Elisha as a prophet to take his place. God still provides us with an Elisha if we will listen to his voice. Your Elisha may not be a likely candidate, but through prayer, God will reveal His choice servant to you.

Jesus – How do I train them?
Reading through the Gospel of Luke is an excellent way to discover a model of leadership and multiplication. Real leaders must go through a time of personal, spiritual preparation where they are securely rooted in the Word of God. In Luke 4, Jesus demonstrated this personal preparation as he overcame life’s greatest temptations through the Word. Reading further in Luke, one can see how such preparation is necessary when calling others to follow your example to become ‘fishers of men.’
In Luke 9, Jesus gives an example of participatory development. He had called the disciples alongside so that they could participate in the mission. As chapter 9 unfolds, one can see how this participatory development moves to a new level as he sends the disciples out on a ‘field test.’ He sent them out empowered, equipped, and educated for what would take place. In training a replacement, one should call the apprentice alongside and then give him or her opportunities for a ‘field test’ of what has been learned. Empower, equip, and educate your apprentice for what lies ahead.

Paul – How should I release them to serve?
Paul gives leaders some tips of how to release new leaders into service. Learn to celebrate the accomplishments and value of the apprentice. Paul, in Philippians 2:20 – 22 (NAS), said Timothy was like “no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare” and celebrated his “proven worth” in sharing the Gospel. Celebrate the value of the new leaders and release them with a plan for multiplication as Paul did with Timothy. Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, encouraged his prized pupil to take those things that he had learned and pass them on to “faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 NAS). Train your replacement and send him or her out with a plan to multiply.

_____________________________
Daniel Edmonds, State Missionary, Director of the Office of Sunday School & Discipleship, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions

The Principle of Three

This is day 28 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School

 

Some people can easily identify patterns or trends in everyday life. David Francis identified some patterns involving three things. The following paragraph describes David Francis’ principle of three found in Missionary Sunday School:

“As a general rule, you need three leaders to start a new class. Three words often used to describe the purposes of Sunday School are teach, minister, and reach. One could also describe the purpose in terms of discover, connect, and invite. There

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is a subtle difference between these sets of descriptors. Teach, minister, and reach are usually directed by the SS organization or its leaders. Discover, connect, and invite are three things every class member can do. A group where members—not just leaders–embrace these three dimensions is more likely to be a missionary Sunday School class. The basic idea is that each class has at least three members/leaders that accept primary responsibility for one of the three dimensions, even as they share responsibility for them all.” David Francis, Missionary Sunday School (page 46)

In order for these to be principles, we should expect to see these three things repeated in effective Sunday Schools—Missionary Sunday Schools, that is. I would add a few other principles of three. Steve and I enjoy starting new classes. We have discovered that a core leadership team can only survive three generations (3 class starts) before becoming a deeply rooted class itself. The core leaders need to form at least two leadership teams which accelerates the starting of more new classes.

If someone misses three consecutive weeks of Sunday School, they are much more apt to never reconnect. That’s why missionary Sunday School classes want to and expect to contact every person every week.

Sunday School directors need to ask every Sunday School teacher three things.

  • How is your ministry with (age group) going?
  • Do you have everything you need?
  • How can I pray more specifically for you?

Strong relationships are built from these three simple questions. Most teachers will go on to tell you something about why their ministry is going (or not going) well. It gives you a chance to hear stories you may otherwise miss. You also might be surprised to find that most teachers do not ask for money. Most of their needs involve the use of shared space, better communication, etc. All teachers know you care if you find out how to pray for them and know you do so.

You can probably add other principles of three yourself. Consider using one principle of three at each leadership meeting.
___________________
Belinda Jolley serves as the Director of the Adult Ministry Office of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Belinda and her husband, Steve, enjoy starting new classes at First Baptist Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Our Commission: Go after the People

This is day 27 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School

Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Matthew 10:6-7 “The Message”

As Christians, we hear a lot about “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28:16-20).  Churches and denominations often base their missionary focus and organization around these final words of Jesus as he commissions his followers to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” This article is in no way discounting the vital importance of those words and the weight that they have on the missionary movements of the past and of today.  I just think we miss something, as believers, if we think this is the ONLY time Christ told his followers to GO after the people.

 

Earlier in Matthew (Chapter 10), we read about a more personal commissioning of Jesus’ closest followers.   You might call this passage “The Lesser Commission” (but that is in no way minimizing its importance).  In this case, the “lesser” refers to the number of people whom this commission was intended; the disciples.  Matthew 10 (the entire chapter) gives step-by-step instructions to this rag-tag group of disciples who left everything and followed Him.  He warns them of setbacks they will face and challenges them to overcome expected persecution because of the name of Jesus, whom they are about to bear witness of, to an unbelieving world.  These disciples are commissioned to go after the people, unashamed and unhindered by the burdens of this world, knowing that Christ will go before them and that, no matter the outcome, Christ has assured His followers an eternal reward.

 

As Sunday School leaders we, too, have been given this same commission.  While “The Great Commission” still applies to all of us, we have the added responsibility of partnering in the disciple making process for those whom we have been called to teach.  This added responsibility puts us under the challenge of “The Lesser Commission”, as well.  I encourage you, as Sunday school leaders, to take a few minutes and pull out your Bible (or pull up the Bible app on your phone or tablet). Read Matthew 10:1-42 with an eye toward how these verses apply to your given call to go after the people in your assigned people group. What is He commissioning you to do? Go after the people.

_______________________
Jason McNair serves as the Religious Education Consultant for the Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention. He also enjoys teaching an adult Sunday school class at First Baptist Church in West Valley City, UT.

 

Enlist and Equip Leaders

This is 25 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School

A growing church needs to continually develop new leaders.  The number one reason I hear for not starting new groups is, “We don’t have enough leaders.”  Do you have enough leaders?  How do you develop new leaders?  Do you have a process or pathway for developing new leaders?

Developing leaders is a two-pronged process: 1) disciple-making, and 2) skill development.  An intentional process for disciple-making will produce maturing believers who are experiencing the power of Spirit-filled living and are ready to serve based on their Spirit-giftedness.  Following are ideas for helping these maturing believers find a place of leadership and develop leadership skills.

 

Enlist Leaders

Personal enlistment is the key to recruiting new leaders.  Announcements are fine to create awareness, but most people won’t respond to an impersonal announcement.  And often those who do respond are not the ones you really want. The goal is not to “fill slots” but to help people find places of ministry.  Get to know people.  Discover their gifts and passions.  Prayerfully consider where God would have them serve.  Ask them personally when you can honestly say, “I think you’re the right person to serve in this place.” Be honest in your enlistment.  Give them all the information they will need about their places of service.  Challenge people.  If “there’s nothing to it,” why would they want to do it?  Challenge them with a vision for what could be done for the Lord.  And don’t put people on the spot.  Give them time to pray about their response  (There are a number of excellent previous blogs on the Enlistment Process).

Equip Leaders

Every leadership position has a set of skills which are required for the leader to be effective.  For a leader in Sunday School these include skills in reaching their people group, ministering to their people group, and teaching their people group. How do you equip your leaders?  Letting them serve as apprentices is effective.  They get on-the-job training from skilled leaders.  One-on-one training can be effective.  I’ve trained a number of leaders like this over the years, but it produces leaders in smaller numbers.  Classroom training for potential leaders works well.  As a young adult I learned a lot in a potential teacher class led by Mildred Wade.  “Turbo groups” are another approach.  You enlist a group of potential leaders for a small group with the expectation that when the group finishes, they will enlist and lead their own groups.

Empower Leaders

If you want people to do their best for the Lord, you have to turn them loose.  You have to give them freedom to serve their ways, which will not necessarily be your way.  Sure you want clear goals and guidelines for what is acceptable.  However, when you enlist maturing believers to lead, you must trust that they can follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit just as you do.  Empower leaders.  Give them freedom to lead and serve in the ways God has gifted them.

Encourage Leaders

Inexperienced leaders can easily become discouraged.  Things don’t always go well.  You need to keep in touch, ask how things are going, and encourage leaders to keep moving forward. Even experienced leaders need encouragement.  Often Satan’s attacks are strongest against the most effective leaders.  Your words of encouragement can help your leaders stand strong.

Your church cannot grow without new leaders.  What’s your next step to develop new leaders? ­­­­
______________________
Bob Wood is a State Missionary with the Baptist State Convention of Michigan, assisting churches to become more intentional and effective in making disciples

 

Know Your Possibilities

This is day 23 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School

 

At the first church that I served as a staff person, we enlisted a relatively new church member as our Sunday School director. He had come from a larger church in a nearby town and had success in leading a growing Sunday School. He approached his new role with confidence and enthusiasm, implementing several new ideas into the ministry. One of them was to organize and promote a high attendance day with a goal – that he came up with on his own – of having 300 people in attendance.

The big challenge was that the church had never in its history had a Sunday with 200 in attendance let alone 300. Unfazed, our Sunday School director held to his lofty goal. When the big day arrived, the actual Sunday School attendance was the highest the church had ever had . . . yet, there was disappointment at having “failed” to reach the goal. Knowing the actual possibilities would have helped our Sunday School director set a goal that was challenging yet attainable, offering him the opportunity to motivate leaders, create momentum, and celebrate a victory.

Knowing the possibilities helps Sunday School leaders set goals and chart a course for growth both in the short and long term. Here are some sources of information that will assist in this endeavor.

Community Demographics
Census data reveals raw population numbers and other descriptive pieces of information. But a demographic report can also reveal trends and changes in types of families in your area, population based on proximity to your church, and even religious affiliation of homes near your church. Your state convention may be able to not only provide this type of information, but help you interpret and apply it to your Sunday School grouping strategy.

SS Class Rolls
Conducting an annual examination of your class rolls will also help understand possibilities for growth. Knowing not only how many have fallen out of regular attendance but also who they are and what life stage or family make-up they represent will give you clues toward what new groups need to be considered in your Sunday School organization.

Unique Attenders per Month
While we regularly calculate average Sunday School attendance, one often overlooked piece of information is the number of different people that attend Sunday School in a given month. For example, a class that averages 20 in attendance likely does not have the same 20 every week. In fact, the class may have 30 different people that attend at least once a month. If half of the marginal attenders are more intentionally connected to and cared for by the class to the point that their attendance increases to 2-3 times per month, the average attendance will increase proportionately. When this happens, other fruit such as personal spiritual disciplines, service, giving, and

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witnessing are more likely to increase as well.

Prospects and Potentials
A final group that helps define the possibilities are those in the past year who have been guests

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in worship services, attended special events, had children in Vacation Bible School, had students involved in youth ministry, or were connected through a community ministry. David Francis also suggests encouraging classes to make lists of their FRANs (Friends, Relatives, Associates, and Neighbors) as a way of identifying those who have a relational connection to people already in Sunday School. This list gives classes a great start in conducting intentional outreach.
____________________
David Bond
Arkansas Baptist State Convention