Because people live busy lives, it’s often hard to get those who lead to commit to regular training. I have always told teachers, “A commitment to teach is first a commitment to be trained.” I expected leaders to attend training events I sponsored, and for 17 years I held weekly worker’s meetings with attendance levels between 75-95% each week. But times have changed.
One strategy I adopted at a church I served as Education Pastor was to “time shift” our leadership meetings from Wednesday nights to Sunday mornings. That’s right…I said “to Sunday mornings.” Teachers were finding it increasingly difficult to show up for mid-week training because of their work schedules, children’s athletic schedules, homework…you get the picture. As Dorothy noted in the Wizard of Oz, “We aren’t in Kansas anymore,” and neither was I when it came to the world of teacher training. Weekly meetings worked for a long time, but culture changed. If I kept leadership meetings at a time when people were struggling to attend, pretty soon those meetings would have gone the way of the dinosaur.
O.K., back to the time-shifting of those meetings to Sunday mornings. I asked our adult teachers to find a substitute once a month, and to let that person teach their class while they (the teacher) met with me during the Sunday School hour (actually, an hour and fifteen minutes at our church). Childcare was not an additional expense as it had been on Wednesday nights (since kids had Sunday School classes to attend on Sunday mornings…that meant no more mid-week paid workers), and I could get 100% attendance because, well, the teachers were used to being at church on Sunday mornings. A neat side benefit was that all over the church campus, we had subs learning how to teach and lead classes, and we were growing the next generation of leaders. And this simple schedule change met the needs of teachers, gave them a night of the week back, and grew our leadership base.
Will this work for your church? Maybe. Give it a try and see how it goes. Could it be any worse than not having a regular time for training, or having training that no one can (or maybe wants to) attend? Time-shifting: it’s smart, won’t cost you a dime, and could make a big difference in the ongoing training of your most important group of leaders, your Sunday School teachers.