I serve as an intentional substitute Sunday School teacher at my church. It was not an official position on our church’s org chart – I invented it.
Well, I was never asked to serve on the “first string” team of Sunday School teachers, so I thought I’d try to work my way up and earn one of the coveted slots!
If I were offered the opportunity to teach a class today, I would probably turn it down. It would be a demotion as far as I’m concerned.
I find it odd that church’s haven’t figured this out. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when a Sunday School teacher is going to need a substitute – sometimes with little or no notice. Vacations, sickness, car problems – you name it – sooner or later, a Sunday School teacher is going to need a substitute. Yet instead of meeting the reality head on, church’s leave it to the teacher to find their own replacement. I guess they stick their heads in the sand and figure it’s not their problem. But it is! In many cases, the absent teacher merely calls the church office and informs them of their absence. Oddly, that’s the best case scenario. Sometimes, the class assembles and there simply is no teacher.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
First of all, teachers should be recruiting their own replacements. I’ve never seen that happen. I’m afraid many of them do not want to be replaced. They hang on with bloody fingers and white knuckles to their coveted positions. Why on earth would they want to recruit and train their competition?
Yet, it’s a no brainer that we will need substitute Sunday School teachers. Instead of ignoring the need, wouldn’t it make sense to meet it head on? It goes beyond meeting an obvious need. It’s a vibrant ministry opportunity that all churches should embrace. The list of benefits is a long one:
- Meet the need of providing for absent teachers
- Development of future leaders
- Qualitative programming improvement. A prepared teacher is better than a last minute effort to just press someone into service.
- If gives the class some much needed variety
Having served as an intentional substitute Sunday School teacher, I can testify that it has been a wonderful experience where everybody wins. As much as I love my class, I like meeting new people. My church office never has to worry about the last minute crisis of a class without a teacher. It has helped me in my spiritual walk. After all, I have to study every weeks Sunday School lesson since I may have to teach it.
If you’re already a Sunday School teacher, I challenge you to begin recruiting and training your own replacement – and let them teach from time to time even when you’re not absent. Isn’t that called “making disciples? If you’re not a teacher, just put the word out that you’re prepared to teach a class at a moments notice. Call the church office and let them know too. Suggest that the church office get a rubber stamp to label the literature with your name and number in case they need a substitute.
You’ll get calls! One last thing. Remember, you could be called upon with no notice to teach a class – you will need to be prepared!
That’s what I think. I’m interested in your thoughts. There’s lots of ways to hit me up so let me hear from you.
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