Internships, Farm Teams, & Sunday School

In just a few hours from now, I will take part in my son’s college graduation ceremony. It will be the culmination of four years of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. His mother and I couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments in school, and of the fact he just accepted his first full-time job at a company in downtown Dallas. One of the big reasons he was awarded his new job was because of the internships he had during his college career. Could the concept of internships be applied in the church? How about in your Sunday School, or in your Sunday School class? Can we learn a lesson about internships from America’s pastime?

Do you recognize any of the following names: Swing of the Quad Cities, Greenville Drive, Springfield Cardinals, Lynchburg Hillcats, Modesto Nuts, Lowell Spinners, Savannah Sand Gnats, Fort Myers Miracle, Montgomery Biscuits, Olmecas de Tabasco, Potros de Tijuana, or Saraperos de Saltillo? Perhaps you realized these are all minor league teams that are part of the Major League farm system. It is estimated that 6,000 minor leaguers are working to fill some 950 Major League roster positions.

Why have such an elaborate farm system? Why give these 6,000 men an “internship” on a minor league team? Why put them through long bus rides, games played in front of small crowds, and minimal recognition by fans (no one is lining up to get their autographs). The answer is growth, development, coaching, experience, and the hope of being given the opportunity of a lifetime. These minor league “interns” need real game experience in order to grow and develop. They need a place to showcase their abilities. The farm team system gives future MLB players a venue to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Let’s turn out thoughts back to the world of Sunday School. Does your church have a farm system for growing new “players” for leadership roles in Sunday School? Tomorrow’s leaders are right under our noses today, waiting for us to get them on the field so they can gain some valuable “real world” experience. How will you as a teacher/leader provide internships for your next generation of leaders? Its time to think about getting these folks ready for “the Bigs.”

Invite “minor leaguers” to your training events. Don’t limit your training to existing leaders…require your teachers to bring an apprentice with them to training events your church sponsors.

Give “minor leaguers” playing time. The best way to learn to play the game is by doing it, so allow interns to take the field on a regular basis. If you want to raise up a new generation of leaders in your Sunday School, make sure they are in the rotation and have a chance to teach one a month, once a quarter, or some other interval.

Make a big deal out of advancing an intern to a “major league” roster spot. When a minor leaguer/intern moves up to start a new group, or takes over for an existing teacher, write a press release for the church to read, or call him/her to the platform and pray for them in front of the church. Don’t squander an opportunity to call attention not just to the person, but to your farm system, and the act that Sunday School is important!

Whether it’s the Charleston River dogs, the Everett Aquasox, or the Sunday School team you lead, development is essential in advancing from where you are to where you want to be.

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