There are two basic methods to use in moving your members toward involvement in doing ministry and both approaches can be utilized in the same
class/group. The decision that you must make as the leader of the class/group is will the specific ministry task require an individual leader or will it be best accomplished through a team approach? In order to answer the question you must understand the task to be accomplished and you must also know the members of your class/group.
The basic ministry tasks for a Sunday School class of outreach, in-reach and teaching can be accomplished with an individual leader or a team. In my experience I have found it best to be very specific in the assignments with an individual leader but to be broader in my assignments for a team. An example of this would be for a fellowship leader and team. For the leader it may be best to assign details to be accomplished such as date, time, promotion, theme, etc. But with a team the charge to the team would be simply that “our class needs to plan a fellowship next month” and then allow them to develop the specifics.
The next step is to determine what approach will work best for the specific task. The following is not an exhaustive list nor is an infallible list; it is simply some of my observations. What to look for in determining if a member will do best as an individual ministry leader.
- Does the person understand the mission of the class/group and the tasks being assigned?
- Is the person open to learning and willing to try new things?
- Will the other members of the class follow this person?
- Does this person know how to prioritize various issues related to life, church and work?
- Will this person be able to communicate their vision to the rest of the class?
Now we need to look at the list to provide some ideas of what to look for in a person if they would serve best on a team.
- Are they willing to sacrifice themselves before they ask others to make a sacrifice?
- Is this person aware of the needs of those around them and willing to act in order to meet those needs?
- Does this person possess a positive outlook on life?
- Is this person accepting of all people, even those that may disagree with them?
- Have observed this person accepting direction from another person or providing direction to another person?
There is no right answer for whether to have an individual leader or a team. The decision can is usually influenced by the generation but it can also be influenced by the geography. The most important factor in making the decision is to invest time with the members of your class/group. Also know there is nothing wrong with the trial and error method. Give people and assignment or put them on a team, provide them with what is needed to accomplish the task and then sit back and observe them. Do they work best alone or in a corporate structure? Be willing and open to making adjustments in the ministry assignments of your class/group.
Understand that you will never get to a point where everything is “fixed” and all you have to do is teach the lesson. This is a marathon and requires an investment of time. Don’t try to do everything all at once. As one said, “Start small, do it right and finish strong.”
Dr. Tim S. Smith serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Convention and is the Sunday School/Small Groups Specialist. Visit their website at ssog.gabaptist.org for more information and other resources to aid your Sunday School.