Being a Sunday School teacher is an important ministry in the church. In fact, it may be the most important role. Many teachers give tirelessly, and serve year after year. Most do it with great joy, for they are serving and using their spiritual gift in the way God intended it to benefit the church. But the question I want us to consider today is whether or not Sunday School teachers should take sabbaticals. What are the possible benefits?
- Teachers can re-engage in adult Bible study groups. Sabbaticals can give teachers the opportunity to reconnect with friends from groups they’ve left in order to serve and teach in other ministries in the church. Sometimes these “teaching missionaries” are forgotten about by the group that sent them out, and the opportunity to have adult Bible study and fellowship again can be a very meaningful experience.
- Teachers can use their sabbatical break to improve their skills. Sabbaticals are about time – giving time back to an individual. Instead of preparing weekly Bible studies, teachers who are on sabbatical can read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, and attend conferences. Any combination of these things will help teachers who are on sabbatical come back even better prepared to serve.
- Teachers can visit other churches. Visiting other churches and other similar Bible study groups can help teachers who are on sabbatical expand their horizons and learn what others are doing as they minister to similar groups.
- New teachers can be discovered. In order for teachers to get their sabbatical, new teachers must be enlisted and trained. This helps to infuse the Bible study ministry of the church with “new blood” each year.
Sabbaticals can help create goodwill between teachers and those in leadership who recruit them. Sabbaticals can also create even better leaders as they have a time to rest, refocus, and respond to God’s voice in new ways. What’s the right length of time for a teacher sabbatical? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Your church will have to decide if this is the right thing for your leaders, but I’m in support of time off for teachers. If you haven’t taught an ongoing group, it’s hard to understand the mental and spiritual fatigue that can set in. Don’t misunderstand! Teaching is a joy and a privilege, but it’s taxing. Let’s think about allowing our teachers to recharge their batteries from time to time. I think we’ll all be glad we did.
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