Maximizing Sunday School Through Team Leadership

February 1, 2016
Maximizing Sunday School Through Team Leadership

Heading to Sunday School, I met my teacher walking toward the building. He carried his Bible and lesson notes in one hand and the box of guest registration supplies in the other. His wife accompanied him with a tray of homemade cinnamon rolls.

In class, Eddie passed out sign-up sheets for upcoming church events and service opportunities. He distributed the prayer list created from the emails he had collected during the week.  He mentioned that he had seen the Johnson’s at the hospital the night before and that they would be going home with their new baby soon. At this point, his wife announced that she was bringing a ham to the Johnson’s house and encouraged others to supply food as well.

Eddie taught his lesson, asked (and answered) a few questions, reminded everyone about the fellowship at his home on Saturday night, and dismissed in prayer. A guest couple was present in the back, but Eddie was too busy filling out the attendance sheet to notice.

Does a similar scenario play out in the Sunday School of your church? Far too often, the pieces of a class ministry fall under the responsibility of one willing but overwhelmed soul. The result is a group that means well but consistently falls short of impacting people for real life change.

Perhaps a better way is to employ a team leadership approach to Sunday School. When more people are involved in real leadership of key ministry areas, Sunday School classes will be in the best position to thrive. Consider these Six “T’s” of Team Leadership.

1.   Testimony: Why Should You Bother With Team Leadership?

Some may immediately object that recruiting even one leader for a Sunday School class is difficult, much less an entire team.  But the testimony of shared leadership is that the impact is worth the effort.

First, team leadership is biblical. Passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 teach us that God has gifted all believers and arranged them to work together for the purpose of serving others. Sunday School provides a natural environment for developing and using these gifts.

Second, team leadership has proven to be effective. In his book, Make Your Group Grow, Josh Hunt found a direct correlation between the number of leaders in a class and the likelihood that their classes were growing.

Third, team leadership is strategic. In The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, John Maxwell notes that great teams have great depth. When the time comes to create new classes, there will be a pool of leaders from which to draw.

2.   Team: What Positions Make Up Your Team?

How many people should be on your class leadership team and what should they do? One guiding principle that may provide answers to these questions is this: Your purposes define your positions.Your class needs a leader for every part of its ministry that it expects to carry out effectively.

Some classes may begin with three basic areas of ministry: Leaders for Teaching, Reaching, and Caring. Other classes may include positions for prayer, record keeping, fellowship, missions, and social media. There are even classes with “class coordinators” who coordinate the work of the 
ministry team! The principle is, if something is going to happen effectively through the Sunday School, someone has to lead it.

3.   Task: What Do You Want the Team Members to Do?

Once positions are identified and leaders recruited, a clear description of their responsibility is needed. Work with them to expand following components of a clear task:

Explanation: What has this position been created to do? What need is being met through this position?

Execution: What system will we use in order to accomplish this ministry? What are the parameters we must respect?

Evaluation: How will we know that the task is being done effectively? What measure will we use?

Include leaders in forming answers to these questions so that everyone will start from the same understanding of how the shared leadership structure of the Sunday School will work.

4.   Title: Who Will Be in Charge of this Ministry Area?

Few things are more discouraging then to be given a responsibility but not the freedom to fulfill it. The following keys provide ways that those who are recruited can really take the lead in their area.

Designate them as the leader. Include listings of ministry leaders just as you would the teacher of the class.

Direct all aspects of their ministry area to them. When someone asks a question, direct them to contact the appropriate person.  This is especially important in the early implementation of a team leadership structure.

Defer to the leader’s unique spin on their ministry. Once you have all agreed to the procedures and parameters of the task, back off and let them lead and learn. If the leader goes outside of the agreed upon boundaries, that is an appropriate time to make corrections.

5.   Time: When Will This Ministry Take Place?

One obvious by-product of a shared leadership system in Sunday School is the need to designate time for each of the ministries to do their job. The following ideas will help.

·Start on time. Every minute is precious and needed for ministry.

·Learn who needs class time every week and who does not. Obviously, teachers will take a good portion for Bible study. Prayer, Ministry Care, and Outreach leaders will also likely need a consistent time slot. Leaders in other areas may not have new contributions every week.  
Communication and planning are the key to maximizing the hour.

·Encourage creativity and the use of multiple delivery methods. No one enjoys a class thatbecomes a parade of announcement-makers. Social media provides a creative way for leaders to communicate with class members.

6.   Tools: What Do Leaders Need in Order to Do Their Job?

Leaders must be given the resources necessary in order for them to carry out their work. An annual meeting of all Sunday School leadership may be necessary in order to share the vision for team leadership. After this, ministry area leaders should meet together periodically for specific 
training, reporting, and evaluation. Outside of formal meeting times, leaders can share articles, websites, blogs, print materials and other sources of helpful information.

Team leadership is effective and results in classes that stay on mission and leaders who are confident and excited about their role.