Today’s blog post is a guest post from my friend Josh Tylich. Josh leads the education ministries at FBC Seguin, TX. This young leader is doing a great job at his church, is a critical thinker, and is making changes that will continue to pay dividends at the church for years to come. Plus, he’s a life-long learner who has attended conferences hosted by LifeWay in Nashville, TN., and he continues his work to earn a degree from Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX.
When I was at his church about a month ago and saw his ministry in action, I told him that we had to partner up and have him write a guest post. Well, today’s the day. Enjoy learning from my friend Josh Tylich as he explains why training is so important in our churches today.
The year was 1996, the Chicago Bulls had just won their fourth championship when New York offered Michael Jordan a one year $25-Million-dollar contract to come play for the Knicks. When Jordan was asked about turning the deal down he replied, “My coach is everything, I don’t know what kind of coach Jeff Van Gundy is, but I know Phil Jackson.” You see, Michael Jordan understood that to continue being the best he had to continue learning from the best. I believe the same is true of the education ministry of our churches today. When I accepted my current position as Associate Pastor of Adult Education we made the decision to provide only the very best training for our teachers and leaders. I believe there are three important factors to effective Sunday school training:
1.The first factor is to keep it simple. In the fast-paced world we live in today, people are pushed and pulled in many different directions. When we made the decision to provide ongoing training, we simply made it as easy as possible for people to attend. In order to maximize our impact and reduce burnout we decided to hold two-hour quarterly trainings on Sunday afternoon right after morning worship. We provide lunch for everyone, make a few quick announcements while people are eating, and then we have about an 90 minutes of group leader training. We also provide nursery care for babies to three-year-olds, and childcare for four-year-olds through sixth grade.
2. The second factor is to enlist professional trainers. To make the most of our volunteers’ time we only bring in professionals who are like-minded in Sunday school philosophy to lead our trainings. This helps bring consistency to our ministry as our leaders continuously hear the same basic messages communicated in different ways. This is why early on we made the decision to invest in trainers from the SBC or LifeWay. People Like Phil Miller (Acting Director, Great Commission Team with the BGTC), and Life Way’s Ken Braddy, Dwayne McCarry, and Allan Taylor to name a few. While the content of each of these trainers may differ a little, the principles by which the training sessions are built remains the same. I always meet with every trainer face-to-face before they speak. I provide them with as much information about our ministry as possible, give a little direction, and then I simply get out of the way and trust them to do what they do best.
3. The third factor is to stop recruiting teachers and start developing leaders. I am convinced you should use training as your number one recruitment tool. In my first year in my new position, I quickly realized that we were only recruiting out of necessity. A teacher would step down and we were on the clock frantically calling anybody and everybody, begging them to fill a spot. After a year in which there were little to no results (and much frustration) I begin looking for a better way to recruit and enlist teachers. That is when we made the decision to stop recruiting teachers and to start developing leaders. Last year I sent out annual teacher recommendation cards to every Sunday school teacher. They provide me with the name and information of people in their group who are ready (or able) to lead their own group. I also kept my eyes open for both current and new members who show promise and could become good group leaders. Once those prospects are identified I invite them to attend our quarterly training events. I have found that people will say yes to lunch quicker than they will say yes to leading a group. It also becomes easier to move people in to leadership who are already a part of your organization and have been properly trained for the task ahead.
Josh makes three great points about how to effectively train group leaders. I can tell you from my experiences at FBC Seguin that he lives out what he has recommended here, and that his pastor, Dr. Brice Mandaville, believes in the ministry of Sunday School and supports it wholeheartedly (he even attended the training with his people!). Many thanks to Josh Tylich for writing today’s post!
Follow this blog and receive 3 posts per week to encourage and equip you to become a better group leader. Click here to jump to my home page where you can sign up in the upper right sidebar with only your email address – and it’s never sold or given away.