This month, we are focusing upon five areas of Sunday School growth that have become known as Flake’s Formula: (1) know the possibilities, (2) enlarge the organization, (3) provide space and equipment, (4) enlist and train leaders, and (5) go after the people. It is important to “know the possibilities” in five contexts: spiritual, church body, church facility, community, and century (see Flake’s Formula for Sunday School Growth: Know the Possibilities). Prior to enlisting and training workers, we should enlarge the organization in these ways: pray and dream big, organize for the next stage, add more workers, start new classes, and reduce the span of care.
For those we enlist, we should provide appropriate space and equipment for Sunday School growth in five areas: enough rooms, enough space, adequate space, adequate equipment, and avoiding too much equipment. In this post, I will focus on ways to enlist and train leaders needed in a growing Sunday School:
- DO PREVIOUS STEPS FIRST. Without knowing the possibilities, enlarging the organization, and providing space and equipment first, you can enlist frustrated leaders. They can be placed without prayer, without a need, in the wrong place, or without a room that is ready. The previous steps seek God’s leadership to accomplish the purpose of reaching, teaching, and caring for people in the church and community. The previous steps seek to add direction and intentionality to enlisting leaders.
- ENLIST PROPERLY. There are many wrong reasons for enlisting leaders, such as guilt, pressure, and low expectations. There are also many wrong methods for enlistment, such as hallway, too little information, fast decision, and more. Ideal enlistment seeks God’s leadership from the beginning and seeks God-called leaders for specific areas of responsibility and need. Enlist prayerfully. Enlist leaders personally, face-to-face. Enlist with job descriptions. Communicate expectations and available resources. Commit to provide help and support.
- PROVIDE TRAINING. Provide training for every Sunday School leader enlisted–from teacher to class leaders. Provide training prior to service (or immediately after enlistment) and during the year. Provide training resources to encourage ongoing training. Lift up essentials for effectiveness. Training should also be provided at regularly-scheduled planning meetings.
- COACH TO SUCCESS. The ideal person to enlist a leader is the person who will be coaching them. In a medium-sized Sunday School, the Sunday School director would enlist and coach department/age group directions who would enlist and coach teachers who would enlist and coach class leaders. For effective coaching, the coach should be responsible for no more than 3-5 leaders. When there are more persons to coach than that, then another coach should be enlisted. As an example, the adult department director will meet with his/her five teachers individually each month. When a new teacher is enlisted, the coach will meet briefly weekly with the teacher (in person or by phone) during the first six weeks and then every other week for the next six weeks and then monthly thereafter. The coach will ask what is going well and what they would like to go differently. The coach will listen, encourage, and assist. In a small Sunday School, the pastor and Sunday School director may serve as the coaches.
- APPRENTICE TO STAY AHEAD. Every leader in a growing Sunday School (from director to teacher to class leaders) should spend time each year praying for, observing, assigning, officially enlisting, and training an apprentice. An apprentice is not a substitute. An apprentice is a person who will be released into service. A growing Sunday School will depend on having leaders ready and available at various times throughout the year.
In order to grow in the best possible way, follow the steps. Prayerfully enlist properly. Provide training and coach to success. Invest annually in apprentices. Expect, enlist for, and train for growth.
For more ideas about Sunday School enlistment, check out these blog posts:
- Avoid Enlisting ’Warm-Bodies’ as Sunday School Teachers!
- Revolutionary Teachers are Tithers
- Sunday School Teacher Qualities
- Raise Expectations for Sunday School Leaders
- Sunday School Leader Application Process
Darryl Wilson has served as Director of the Sunday School Department for the Kentucky Baptist Convention since 1997. He served as Minister of Education in five churches in Kentucky and South Carolina. He is the author of The Sunday School Revolutionary!, a blog about life-changing Sunday School and small groups.