Hello, my name is David Choate. Two years ago, before overseeing the Sunday School lessons of Sharefaith Kids, I was a Children’s Pastor in Medford, Oregon. Being a Children’s Pastor was one of the most rewarding and challenging seasons of my life. There is nothing as wonderful as sharing the Gospel with kids! Conversely, there was nothing quite as challenging as building, maintaining and equipping a team of committed volunteers. That is why I was so excited to have the opportunity to interview and pick the brain of Janet Christian.
Sunday School 101: How To Build A Strong Team, Preparing Sunday School Lessons & More!
Janet has been a Children’s Ministry director for 25 years and built a committed volunteer team, many of whom have served consistently for 10-15 years. In this interview, Janet was kind enough to share her wealth of experience, knowledge and perspective. She is passionate about her kids, frank about her challenges, and just plain funny! If you are leading, volunteering, or considering getting involved in Sunday School, I strongly recommend you take a few minutes and watch these videos. You’ll discover a person whose words encourage, convict, and are a great reminder of why we serve.
Sunday School 101 – Part 1
In Part 1 of this interview, we covered a range of topics, including how to keep Sunday School exciting, advice for new leaders, and what to look for in a volunteer! Below is a brief summary of some important insights and perspectives Janet shared:
- If you want to keep Sunday School fresh and exciting, you must spend time with your kids in the classroom, and avoid getting bogged down in administration.
- Conferences are a great resource that Sunday School leaders should take advantage of. In this unique forum, you can hear from others that deeply appreciate/affirm what you do and re-ignite your excitement for kids ministry.
- If you are new to leading a children’s ministry that’s already in place, don’t change anything for a year, unless there’s something unsafe. Go slowly. Get to know your Pastor, your families, and the demographics of your church. And most of all… pray!
- To be successful in Sunday School, you must build a team. Newsflash! You can’t do everything beautifully by yourself.
- When evaluating a potential volunteer, here are some questions to ask: Do they know and agree with the church’s vision? Are they a team player? Do they place a high priority on Scripture, when teaching a Sunday School lesson? Are they arrogant or secure in their faith?
Sunday School 101 – Part 2
The second part of my talk with Janet hit topics that included how to help struggling volunteers, what do with difficult children, and tips on preventing volunteer burnout. You have to hear the unique approach Janet takes to keep her volunteers energized and committed! The following are just a few of the big ideas we touched on in Part 2 of this interview.
- If a new volunteer is struggling, take the leadership role and walk alongside them. Their problem is your problem – figure out the solution together.
- With difficult children, think ahead and find a specific volunteer to encourage them. If we take the time, difficult children often become the greatest examples of God’s ability to transform a life.
- You have to make sure your children are safe emotionally, physically, and spiritually – you are the gatekeeper.
- Transparency is key for a healthy Sunday School team. You don’t have to have your life completely together to do Sunday School ministry – none of us do. There is a reason we all need a Savior.
- To help keep volunteers from burning out, we have developed a structure where our volunteers take the summer off. It’s not easy, but our volunteers come back in the fall, recharged and ready to go. This part is a must watch!!!
Sunday School 101 – Part 3
The final portion of this interview spans some big topics: How to find new volunteers, what makes a great Sunday School lesson, and how to balance entertainment with education. My time with Janet concluded with her emotionally sharing how serving children has shaped her life. If you need a reminder of why we serve, then this is something you really need to watch. Here are some of the highlights that we covered:
- If you need volunteers, pray hard and ask God to lay it on the heart of people to serve. Pay attention and start slowly, let God show you the people he is calling. You don’t want just anybody (warm bodies) to fill a spot.
- When building a Sunday School service, discover what works at your church, don’t try to copy others. Because something works in one ministry doesn’t mean that it will work in yours.
- A great Sunday School lesson requires, above all else, preparation. Don’t insult the children by just winging it. Keep it fun, real, and filled with life application. Pray and prep!
- If you don’t love kids, get out of the classroom. If God has not given you a love for children, don’t teach Sunday School.
- Sunday School should be entertaining, but it can’t become all about entertainment. To teach a Sunday School lesson effectively, we need to set aside our ego and move the message to the forefront.
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity I had to talk with Janet. I wish I could have had this conversation with her many years ago when I first started in ministry! At Sharefaith Kids, we hope that you found this interview helpful. We love Sunday School and have a deep appreciation for all who serve in this incredible field of ministry. Thank you for your commitment, service, and sacrifice!