How to Encourage Your Sunday School Teachers

There are a number of challenges a church faces in attracting and keeping volunteer teachers and workers for Sunday School, Children's Church, or any other long-term educational program. For anyone in the position of recruiting and training a group of volunteers, here are some tips to keep your church's education program vibrant and growing.

Set limits. One of the most beneficial things you can do for your church volunteers is to set limits on the duration of their terms. Many churches make the mistake of making the terms of service open-ended. To keep newcomers from feeling they are making a life-time commitment to teach the kindergarten class, for example, set a time limit. They only commit for a year, or nine months, after which time they are free to quit, or work in another area. And no cheating: be sure to have someone available to take their place - avoid the "there is no one else," guilt trip. People are more inclined to volunteer if they know they are truly free to leave.

Inspire your teachers. As the person in charge, you need to do more than just order the next quarter's curriculum from your denominational headquarters. Hold training meetings a few times a year to give the teachers new ideas and the opportunity to share problems and techniques. You can do a lot in-house with videos and DVDs, or maybe invite an outside speaker. Have "how-to" books and videos available, perhaps in the church library. However, also include money in the Christian Education budget for outside workshops and seminars. There's nothing like a free weekend at a Christian retreat center to inspire and encourage hard-working teachers.

Appreciate your teachers. This applies one-on-one as you interact with your teachers on a weekly basis. If you see a problem, steer your volunteer toward your training materials, but don't stop there. Be sure you also notice the improvements, the class growth, the positive impact on the children - search for things to encourage and praise. Beyond that, talk up your teachers to the other church staff, and to the congregation. Give gifts and awards, hold appreciation days. Some denominations have "teacher of the year" awards. To just nominate one of the teachers from your church at a district or national level is a great boost to the entire group.

Pray for your teachers. Of course, in Christian ministry, no real results are made apart from prayer. Pray for wisdom and direction for your educational programs in general. Solicit specific requests from your teachers, whether personal or for their classes. Remember your prayers are felt, even when you don't mention them. Prayer will affect the whole tone of your department.