“A commitment to teach is first a commitment to be trained.” I believe in the value of ongoing teacher training. Teaching God’s Word and participating in ongoing training go hand-in-hand…or they should. Ongoing training is important to the overall growth and health of your Sunday school. The Georgia Baptist Convention surveyed over 2400 churches in their state. They sought to understand the relationship between growing churches and those that were not growing. Their findings were revealing: churches that had regular, ongoing training for Bible study leaders (quarterly or monthly) grew 13+% over a four year period, while those that had less frequent training at a substantially reduced rate (churches that held annual training only grew at a rate of 4.2%). Churches that provided no training actually decreased in size -2.1%.
8 ways to provide training
- Individual study – provide a book on leadership, church growth, Sunday school, small groups, teaching methods, etc., for each group leader and ask them to read it by a certain date.
- Large-group study – provide a book (as in #1 above) but this time bring all of your Bible study leaders together for a time of discussion and reflection on the contents of the reading.
- Retreats – an overnight retreat at a conference center, hotel, or camp can be a good way to bring focused training to group leaders.
- Training by age divisions – Preschool, children, student, and leaders of adult groups receive ongoing training by department without coming together for a large-group training time. This allows for more focused training crafted specifically for each age group.
- Association training – Local associations of churches often provide annual or bi-annual training events (normally in the spring and late-summer months). This training is low-cost and does not require overnight time commitments.
- State convention training – State conventions have staff leaders who schedule training events around the state. These events are regional and draw large crowds of Bible study leaders.
- National training – Companies like LifeWay Christian Resources provide events like The National Sunday School Director’s Seminar, TRANSFORM, and other events.
- Digital training – LifeWay’s new Ministry Grid is an online training tool that can be customized to deliver training electronically to group leaders. The advantage is that training can be highly customized by the church, and group leaders can complete training on their own schedules. Ministry Grid even offers a free trial so you can make sure it is technology that works for your church.