Let me suggest ways not to enlist Sunday School workers.
Make announcements. I hear announcements from the pulpit such as, ”We need preschool teachers. Let us know if you want to teach.” People rarely respond to an announcement. When someone does respond, it is usually not the right person for the ministry, placing us in an awkward situation. Rather than making an announcement, personally enlist Sunday School workers.
Say, “There’s nothing to it.” If there’s nothing to it, then why would I want to do it? People respond to meaningful challenges. Rather than saying that there’s nothing to it, enlist the potential teacher with a challenge and vision for what can be accomplished as he or she serves.
Enlist in the church hallway. As we walk down the hall, we see a potential teacher and corner him or her right there, asking them to serve. What are the results? We don’t have time to adequately explain the expectations. We also devalue the ministry when we enlist on the fly. Rather than enlisting in the hallway; make an appointment and meet personally with the potential worker.
Expect an answer immediately. Often we ask someone to serve and expect an immediate answer. Most often that answer will be, “No.” Expecting an immediate answer puts the person under pressure and doesn’t allow time for prayerful consideration. Rather than expecting an immediate answer, give a person time to pray about it.
Say, “Nobody else will do it.” We say this when we’re more concerned about filling a position than about prayerfully helping persons find the right place of ministry. Rather than saying that nobody else
will do it, we should be able to say, “I’ve prayed about this and I think you are the right person for the job.”
Use guilt as a motivator. I watched a man squirm in his seat as his pastor laid a guilt trip on him about filling a Sunday School position. He did agree to serve, but did very little from then on. Guilt can give us filled positions, but not effective long-term service. Rather than using guilt, ask a person to serve and let the Lord bring motivation to serve.
I’ve found that when we prayerfully and personally enlist persons to serve in Sunday School, we will see satisfied and effective Sunday School workers. What have you found that works well in enlisting Sunday School workers?
Bob Wood serves the Baptist State Convention of Michigan in Church Strengthening Ministries.