Discovering your team (Part 2)


In the UK for many years the majority of churches would use the same material. The reason for this widespread agreement was that it could be lifted off a shelf. It was specifically designed so that the ‘teachers’ just had to read and repeat, photocopy and handout, follow the instructions and instant lesson. It was black and white, the answers were as set as the questions. The problem was that it was also dull. Kids who paid attention in the younger years (like I did) could predict the comprehension questions, and sometimes the craft and the story telling method, by hearing the passage title. Eventually the material changed, it recognised that the groups it was reaching were diverse and it started to offer more options for each section of the lesson. But that gave potential teachers a new problem – composition.

“It’s not that people won’t help, it’s just, I can’t find any teachers!”

It was a fact, and for her it was a huge stumbling block. The kids ministry rota sat on the table. The list of ‘helpers’ was at least twice as long as the list of teachers. A few weeks in the notice sheet, bending ears, and downright pleading had led her to this meeting with a list, but everyone has signed up to just ‘help’. Teaching was tough.

Let me start by saying – I love helpers – I really do. Many churches can’t leave only one person with the children, and having people who are willing to be there, so that every child gets individual attention, are minor hero’s in my book.
Back to my meeting, the hot drinks are getting tepid. If the material is there, the instructions are comprehensible, why are people so reluctant to teach. These are the 4 most people seem to give;

1. The kids scare them

This may sound drastic but badly behaved kids can be a handful. However, helpers have to deal with the kids too, and a timid teacher can always be paired with someone whose better at getting the kids to tow the line


2. The preparation is too much for them

This is a real concern for some, it may be a time issue, it may be that they simply don’t have the materials at home, whatever the reason you can always pair them with a helper who will photocopy and cut out the 20 shapes needed, collect 14 egg-boxes, cook a batch of muffins, or pre-paint the Styrofoam.


3. They don’t do public speaking

To be honest this is one you just have to accept for now. Some people will be fine talking to small groups of kids but won’t talk to bigger groups of them. (Read the post on leaders like Mary, Martha, Peter and Stephen).


4. they don’t want to be the authority

This is the biggest reason people give me for not teaching. They believe the material will not give them the answers they need for the kids questions. They don’t want to look stupid. If they are the ‘leader’ they have to choose which parts of the lesson to do, and may have to justify that choice. composing a lesson is tough.



So if we solve the problems of group 1 & 2 by pairing them with relevant helpers, and accept and love group 3 for who they are, lets also give group 4 a bit of a hand.

Give it a test. Working with the young can be really rewarding, but can also feel like signing up for a life sentence. Why not turn the chore into an honour. Have a look at your schedule and choose one really well known passage. Ask a hesitant volunteer if they would be the guest teacher for that week, give them the material well in advance, and offer to go through it with them. Make it clear that this is a one off, and next time the rota comes round they don’t need to sign up again. It’s amazing how doing something gives people confidence.

Have a look at this graphic which shows how a lesson is put together, see the material as a suggestion not an authority and it becomes easier. When we understand how something is formed it’s easier for us to have confidence to change things. (the image is linked to the page with the full graphic.)

Everybody is learning, you don’t need to know the answers, “I don’t know” is a good answer – lets discover together. Faith is the bits you don’t have the answers for, God doesn’t need you have all the answers, just look at the characters from the bible if you don’t believe me!
Once you really get this idea then teaching does become easier, the pressure lifts. Reassure your team of this truth regularly.



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