In Part 1 of this three-part series, I said that Sunday School teachers and workers contribute much to the ministry of the church. Sunday School impacts discipleship, evangelism, assimilation, and ministry efforts. I emphasized that it is essential to recognize these leaders or some will burn out and quit.
I mentioned a chapter by Judy Stamey entitled Equipping the Saints to Serve in the book, Church Administration Handbook: A Revised and Completely Updated Edition. Stamey closes her chapter by offering a list of 25 ways to recognize workers. In Part 1, I shared the first third of her list. Here in Part 2, I will share the middle third of her list of ways to recognize workers. Her list is in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- TAKE TIME TO EXPLAIN FULLY. When new assignments, events, or plans come along, take time to help Sunday School workers understand why they are important and what they need to do. Don’t make assumptions about the worker’s knowledge, and don’t leave him/her with assumptions. Provide time to answer questions. Be available for follow up questions beyond the initial time of explanation. This begins during the enlistment process (check out Avoid Enlisting ’Warm-Bodies’ as Sunday School Teachers!).
- ENABLE THEM TO GROW ON THE JOB. Be an encourager and a coach. Want and expect the best from workers. Challenge them. Help them learn new skills. Expose them to new opportunities and learning. Check out High Expectations Are Necessary for Sunday School’s Mutiny Against Mediocrity and Raise Expectations for Sunday School Leaders.
- CREATE PLEASANT SURROUNDINGS. Work to improve classrooms and resource rooms. Work to improve seating and lighting. Work to improve heating and cooling. Add appropriate color and furnishings without adding distraction and clutter. Make sure facilities are clean, odor-free, and safe (check out Revolutionary Adult Sunday School Classroom Space).
- TAKE TIME TO TALK. Be genuinely interested in Sunday School teachers and workers. Ask about family, work, life, and the class. Listen (check out Revolutionary Sunday School Teachers Listen to God, Members, and Prospects). Respond with prayer and care as is appropriate. Don’t rush these encounters. Follow up on any class requests that are made.
- PROVIDE EXPENSES FOR SPECIAL TRAINING CONFERENCES OR WORKSHOPS. Expect workers to train, and provide budget money for them to be trained. Purchase books and training materials. Pay for workers to attend conferences and workshops away from the church (sponsored by associational, state convention, or national groups). Or provide training events at the church by bringing in special speakers or age group trainers. For more information, check out Responding to Sunday School Teachers Who Don’t Want to Train and Creative Ways to Train Sunday School Teachers.
- WRITE “THANK-YOU” NOTES. Constantly watch for opportunities to express appreciation. Communicate it verbally. But sometimes it is special to write a thank you note by hand. Drop them a card expressing thanks after a high attendance day. Say thank you on teacher/worker appreciation Sunday. Express appreciation by card for enlisting care group leaders. Look for any “excuse” to say thank you! I have written about the importance of appreciating worker previously (check out Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Month: Is It May or October? and Sunday School Leader Appreciation Is a Must!).
- INVITE PARTICIPATION IN FORMULATING POLICIES.When you invite participation in tasks, it creates ownership of the results. I have written about the importance of ownership before (check out An Ownership Problem in Our Sunday School Work). Your actions in inviting participation say that the opinions and experiences of your workers are valuable.
- CELEBRATE OUTSTANDING PROJECTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS. I have mentioned this in previous blog entries (check out Plan Your Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day, Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Month: Is It May or October?, and Sunday School Leader Appreciation Is a Must!). Catch them doing something good. This applies to projects and achievements as a Sunday School leader or as a person in activities away from church. Celebrate privately and corporately.
At the close of Part 1, I asked which of these ways you as a Sunday School leader need to implement in your work with others. Focus on one this month! In Part 3, we will look at the final eight of Stamey’s list of ways to recognize workers. Recognize them. Keep them. Be revolutionary!