What is the purpose of a football coach? Why does a team need a coach? How can a team benefit from having a coach? Answers to these questions have relevance for pastors and Sunday School directors as they lead the Sunday School leadership team.
For football teams and for Sunday School teams, the object of a coach is to help the team to do what it takes to win. Sunday School leadership teams need coaches to help them see what it takes to win, to understand how to do the basics well, to practice and prepare to win, to stay focused, and to execute an effective winning strategy on “game day.”
I like an article by David Francis, Sunday School Director of LifeWay Christian Resources, entitled Coach Your Sunday School Leaders to Win. In the article, he shares five ideas for coaching Sunday School leaders to win. The points are his, but the commentary is mine:
- Match Their Position with Their Gifts. A good football coach examines the skills of players versus the needs of the team and places players in places where they fit best. Frequently, warm bodies are placed into positions of leadership in our Sunday Schools rather than God-called people. In order to coach the Sunday School to win, a pastor and Sunday School director will want to work with the nominating body for Sunday School leaders to ensure God-called people with the right gifts, abilities, personality, and experiences are matched with the right opportunities to serve. The pastor and Sunday School director will not hesitate to shift an individual to another place of service when the fit is not right.
- Provide Them with Good Equipment. A football team with ill-fitting, poorly maintained equipment are more likely to be hurt and less likely to be as effective. In the same way, a Sunday School team should have needed equipment and resources in place and in good condition in order to win. Pastors and Sunday School directors should listen to the needs of their team, coach those who purchase needed equipment and resources, and secure what is needed for their team.
- Help Them Understand the Game Plan. A football coach helps the team understand upcoming opponents and how to prepare to win against their strengths. In a similar way, Sunday School coaches help the Sunday School team assess the opportunity of Sunday School and prepare an effective game plan for evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and worship through the Sunday School. The coach helps teachers focus effectively on their assigned age group. The coach holds them accountable for what happens on Sunday as well as through the week in ministry to assigned members and prospects.
- Encourage Them on Game Day. Coaching happens before game day and on game day. Football coaches encourage. They observe, evaluate, and ask players to make adjustments. They send in substitutes. Pastors and Sunday School directors encourage teachers and workers on Sunday. They make human contact. They observe and evaluate. They affirm in person, in classes, and in worship. They lift up the value of Sunday School so the congregation can understand the place of the Sunday School in the life of the church.
- Stay Focused on the Goal. It is easy to get distracted and to focus in areas that are not essential. Professional athletes can get distracted by all their “sponsors” and notoriety. Coaches have to get the attention of the team and focus their attention on the goal and how to get there. In a similar way, pastors and directors need to keep remindin g the S unday School leadership team what a win looks like. They focus on goals and actions needed to accomplish those goals. They call the leadership team to prayer and concerted effort to work as a team to accomplish those goals. They focus on inviting people to Jesus though the Sunday School. They focus on caring for needs and leading members and prospects to encounter God in His Word. They focus on connecting people with God and each other.
Evaluate your coaching as a pastor or Sunday School director. How are you doing in these five areas? Which area needs attention? What will you do to take the first step to improve your coaching this week? Don’t be a poor coach! Be revolutionary!