6 things to do when no one steps up

Here is an email that I received last week. I’m going to address this great question in today’s blog post. I bet this situation is more common than we think. How many of you have faced this very circumstance? A follower of this blog wrote this note to me:

Just curious if you’ve ever addressed the issue of what to do when you can’t get anyone to step up to teach a class. We have a teacher who had to step down due to his wife’s health and after an exhaustive search, no one has been found that is willing to lead that adult class, not even team teach. Some are suggesting that the class be disbanded and members absorbed into other adult groups, but we feel offering less groups is a move in the wrong direction. Any thoughts?

Any thoughts? Of course!

  1. Keep the class going, no matter what. You are right in thinking that to disband it would be a step in the wrong direction. Sunday Schools grow when new groups are started, not disbanded. More choices for guests is always better than fewer choices, so stay committed to keeping the group going. If necessary, you teach the class for a time.
  2. Commit to have apprentice teachers in all of your groups.  If you don’t implement apprentice teachers in all of your groups, you’ll run into this situation again and again. As David Francis has said, having an apprentice teacher is the one sign that a group is serious about being missionary minded. An apprentice teacher signals that the group understands that it should start another group, but if needed, the apprentice can step into the full-time teaching role should the regular teacher have to step down for some reason.
  3. Ask another teacher to do “double-duty” – temporarily. If you are not finding anyone within the group to take over the teaching responsibilities, go outside the group. It might make sense to ask another adult teacher to step in and teach both his class and the one without a teacher. I’d recommend making this a short-term fix, say six weeks, to buy you some time to continue the search for a new teacher.
  4. Pray. A lot. There is a teacher out there. My guess is that he’s in the group right now, even though you’ve already done a serious search. Keep praying. Continue to ask your Heavenly Father to provide what you need. When Jesus saw a field white for harvest, he told His disciples that the shortage of workers could be resolved by their prayers. He used a word for “pray” that means “to beg because of a lack or need.” Stay on your knees and continue to beg your Father to supply your needs. He’s got this!
  5. Be patient and wait. Resist the urge to put a “warm body” in the role of teacher. That may mean waiting for weeks or perhaps months if necessary. But placing the wrong person will be even more painful than the waiting, because at some point you’ll have to remove them. Commit to be in this for the long haul if necessary.
  6. Take another look at your list of potential teachers. I realize that you’ve exhausted your list of potential teachers, but take another look at the class and see if you’ve overlooked anyone. Perhaps the person to look for isn’t the one who has a great “stage presence” or is a tremendous orator at present. Maybe – just maybe – the person you need has a pastor’s heart and really loves people – a true shepherd – but isn’t as skilled in teaching as you’d like. You can always coach this person and bring their teaching abilities up to speed. That’s easier to do than to teach them how to love people. You’re almost better off grabbing a shepherd first, then teaching the person how to teach.

If any of you have more advice for this brother in the Lord, please respond to the post with your thoughts on how to find a new teacher for this group!

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