Sunday School teachers and workers contribute much to the ministry of the church. Sunday School impacts discipleship, evangelism, assimilation, and ministry efforts. It is essential to recognize these leaders. In fact, some will burn out and some will quit if don’t receive appropriate recognition.
Judy Stamey has written a chapter entitled Equipping the Saints to Serve in the book, Church Administration Handbook: A Revised and Completely Updated Edition. She closes her chapter by offering a list of 25 ways to recognize workers. In Part 1, I will share the first third of her list. Stamey’s first nine ways to recognize workers are in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- SMILE. This is common courtesy. It is recognition of their presence. It is kindness. Look people in the eyes and smile.
- BE OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS. This begins by being willing to listen. Listen for beneficial ideas. At times, seek input. This can even create ownership in decisions.
- REIMBURSE ASSIGNMENT-RELATED EXPENSES. You will likely need to create a policy or process for handling expenses. But when a teacher needs poster board to do his/her job, one way to recognize that worker is to reimburse that expense. If you ask a Sunday School worker to do a job, be willing to pay the costs associated with the worker completing the task.
- ASK FOR A REPORT. This holds the worker accountable to make progress on an assignment. But it also says the task is important. It can elevate the task and the person carrying it out. It says you are interested in the worker and his/her progress.
- SEND A BIRTHDAY CARD. Again, this is common courtesy, but it says you remembered him/her. You cared enough to remember his/her special day and to choose and send a card. I know a leader who calls all of his teachers on their birthdays.
- RECOGNIZE PERSONAL NEEDS AND PROBLEMS. When (not if) Sunday School workers go through stressful moments in life, acknowledge those moments. Pray with the worker. Send a card, if that would be appropriate. Check on him/her and how they are doing. Offer help.
- KEEP CHALLENGING THEM. Even a task a worker enjoys can become boring without new challenges. Recognize the worker and his/her faithfulness by asking them to undertake additional responsibility. Ask him/her to report on some new training. Ask the worker to lead out in a pilot project. Affirm privately and publically.
- PROVIDE GOOD PRE-SERVICE TRAINING. Launch all your Sunday School workers well (teachers, secretaries, care group leaders, directors, and more). Help them understand what they are expected to do. It is de-motivating to take a new job and have no idea what you are supposed to do.
- HELP DEVELOP SELF-CONFIDENCE. In my experience, this happens best when a new worker is apprenticed. Little tasks are done together and then assigned to the apprentice. It helps the worker know how to do tasks and why before her/she has to do them on his/her own.
Pastor and Sunday School director, which of these nine ways to recognize workers could you implement this week with your teachers? Teacher, which of these nine ways could you implement with your secretary and other workers? In Part 2 and Part 3, we will look at the remaining 16 of Stamey’s list of ways to recognize workers. Recognize them. Keep them. Be revolutionary!