Do you want your Sunday School grow? Do you want to see numerical, discipleship, and leadership growth? What if you could accomplish all three through one action? Would it be worth a few minutes of your time each week? Want to know the simple plan? In a word, I would tell you to invest yourself in “apprenticing.” Mentor another leader. Coach him/her to be successful.
Encourage Christians to take beginning steps of service. Encourage and train servers to serve on their own. Challenge and train on-their-own servers to take beginning steps of leadership. Invest yourself in these beginning leaders. Help them to do more than focus on task. Help them to focus on their spiritual development. Help them to implement spiritual disciplines in their lives. Encourage a regular quiet time. And help them to understand why the work is important. Help them to recognize and invest their spiritual gifts, hearts (passion), abilities, personality, and experiences. Coach them to make a difference in the lives of others. Teach them to multiply themselves, to apprentice.
I like the simple plan suggested by Kerry Mackey of the Street to the Seat blog in a post entitled Plan for Change. Consider Kerry’s five actions and apply them to your work in Sunday School (whether you are a director, teacher, or another worker). Kerry’s five actions are in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- HAVE A PLAN. Spend some time thinking through the areas of training and support that will encourage a potential leader. What should come first? What experiences are needed? What information is needed? What does the individual already know. Find out his/her needs. How can you pray for his/her family? Dish out early lessons in small portions. Have a plan to affirm efforts. Customize the plan to the person and the task.
- HAVE SOMEONE WHO CAN TAKE OVER IN YOUR ABSENCE–YOUR “SECOND.” This begins by seeking God’s leadership in enlisting the right person for the responsibility. Invest in him/her in such a way that he/she feels confident enough to carry out the work. Walk him/her through small segments until each one can be done naturally. Invest until you trust the apprentice, your “second,” and he/she knows you do.
- MAKE SURE YOUR “SECOND” CAN RUN YOUR PLAN.Be clear. Explain and walk him/her through the plan. Share explanations. Check on progress and understanding. Observe him/her in action. Debrief. Give bigger and bigger responsibility until he/she knows the whole task, plan, and reasons.
- ALLOW YOUR “SECOND” FLEXIBILITY TO RUN YOUR PLAN ON YOUR BEHALF. Each of us is unique. Allow your apprentice, your “second,” the opportunity to do it his/her way. Be flexible in the way the task is accomplished as long as it is done well, to your standards. Don’t accept rushed or poorly done work. Raise expectations, but be flexible about methodology.
- KNOW THE RIGHT TIME TO HAND OVER LEADERSHIP.Pray. Observe. Train. Support. Ask Questions. Talk. Take a chance. When the time is right, hand over leadership so you can move on to new pastures. When a current adult teacher starts a new class, he/she will frequently have adults willing to help him/her start the class. So hand over the reins of the old class to the apprentice. Challenge him/her to begin apprenticing another teacher like you have with him/her. And once you have launched your “second” into leadership, continue to be available to coach them to success.
When you invest in your “second,” you are helping him/her grow as a disciple. You are helpi ng him/her to steps toward service and leadership. And you are enabling the organization of the Sunday School to be expanded to care for even more people. Apprenticing has the potential to grow your Sunday School. Grow disciples. Grow leaders. Reach, teach, and care for more people. Apprentice. Be revolutionary!