Thomas Cook has written a great article entitled Discovering My Essential Role of the Sunday School Director. He begins with a quote from Bill Taylor’s book, 21 Truths, Traditions, & Trends: “The Sunday School director is essential in leading the Sunday School to do the tasks it’s assigned to do.” I agree with Cook when he said, “Essential is an appropriate word to describe the fundamental importance of the role of a Sunday School director.” In the absence of leadership, any organization will tend to flounder. In order to assist the church in carrying out our Lord’s Great Commission, Sunday School needs a director who leads out of a personal relationship with our Lord. That is essential!
In Cook’s article, he lists six roles of a Sunday School director. What he lists as roles, I will refer to as hats. His roles (hats) are listed in all capitals followed by my commentary. Frequently, it is necessary to put on another hat as director before removing the previous one, so the picture above is quite appropriate! Consider these Sunday School director hats:
- PLANNER. Effective leadership requires the planning hat. This begins with an annual planning retreat with all Sunday School leaders and/or the leadership team. The annual retreat begins with spiritual preparation and moves to evaluate, identify needs/dreams, set priorities, set goals, and make plans. Monthly and/or weekly meetings help to check on progress of plans and goals. The planning hat includes submitting calendar and budget requests.
- EQUIPPER. Pastors and teachers are given to the church to equip “the saints for the work of service (Ephesians 4:12, NASB). As director, your equipping hat is to equip the teachers and workers in the Sunday School. When a teacher/worker stops learning, he/she stops teaching/leading. Training should be calendared and budgeted (planned). Expectations should be raised about participation in training. Your training hat means you will want to observe your classes, teachers, and workers. You will want to customize training that is offered to individual needs. Sometimes, training can even be in the form of a personal visit and conversation. Job descriptions are an important part of the equipping hat.
- ORGANIZER. Your organizer hat focuses on observation and addressing of the needs of the entire system (organization) of the Sunday School. What is working well? What needs attention? Which classes are growing? Which are not growing? Why? What needs to be done? Are classes too large? Are classes struggling? Which classes need to be started? Which age groups need to be reached? Seek health for the entire system. Seek God-called teachers and workers.
- PROVIDER. Your provider hat seeks to secure what is needed for growth and excellence in Sunday School work to continue. What equipment, supplies, resources, furnishings, space, curriculum, or training is needed? Listen to teachers and workers. Ask questions. Observe. Work with church committees/team to secure what is needed. Budget to provide what can be anticipated. Make special requests when necessary. I like what Cook said: “Become an advocate for your Sunday School.”
- LEADER. Your leader hat is more than just a manager hat. A manager is a steward who cares for what has been entrusted to him/her. A manager focuses on maintaining. A leader focuses on investing with expectation of an increase. It is seeking to lead people to accomplish something–in this case to help to fulfill the Great Commission. A leader has high expectations. A leader works with teachers and workers to set God-sized goals. Cook mentioned one measure of a leader: “other leaders have ownership of the Sunday School as well as for their own responsibility.” If no one is following, your leader hat is not working!
- ENCOURAGER. This hat is so important! It is so much easier to care for a currently-enlisted good teacher/worker than it is to enlist and train a new one. Spend time with your teachers and workers. Get to know them. Catch them doing something good and affirm them. Brag out loud when classes and leaders do things well. Remember their significant days: birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Lead classes to express their appreciation to their teachers. Plan teacher/worker appreciation events. When needs are discovered, be quick to respond. Pray for your teachers and workers. Let them know you care. Don’t forget to wear your encourager hat regularly!
I am sure you could add a dozen more hats. But of the six listed, which one needs some attention right now in your work? What are two ways you can wear that hat in the next month to be even more effective in your role as Sunday School director? Choose one and begin working on it this week! Plan. Equip. Organize. Provide, Lead, Encourage. Be revolutionary!