The Cokesbury Kids blog is all about ministry!

Our goal is to provide ideas and examples to assist you as you minister to families and teach the gospel to the kids in your community.

What Sunday School Teachers Wish You Knew

by Lauren Bedevian -

Don’t all churches have problems recruiting (and keeping) Sunday School teachers? Week after week, the struggle is real. Why is this a continual issue, and what can we do to more intentionally recruit and keep our Sunday school teachers?


As a Sunday school teacher, here are several important pieces of information that you need to collect from your would-be volunteers (and also what you need to communicate to them).


Why do they even sign up?

- The majority of people who have taught children’s Sunday school reported that the reason they have done so is that they wanted to help out. If we as children’s directors can communicate that our need for children’s teachers is more than just babysitting--it is service to the church. People may be more inclined to serve.


- The second reason people reported signing up was that they were looking for a way to get connected to the church. Many people told me that they wanted to meet new people and feel that this church was their own. They were looking for a way to build community and have found so by serving.


Their biggest fear in teaching?

- Before teaching - “Will I have all the answers?!” Most all the Sunday school teachers I spoke with listed this as their primary concern. They did not feel like they had the proper education to teach Sunday school. What can we do? Encourage them that no one has all the answers! Reassure volunteers that degrees in theology are not required to lead Sunday School. As a children’s director- offer yourself as that resource for knowledge. If questions are asked that are beyond their realm of knowledge, allow volunteers to refer those children to you.


- While teaching - “behavior” Let’s face it. Every class will have “THAT” child. The child who refuses to listen. The one who makes paper airplanes out of all the activity pages. And even the child who crawls under the table or climbs into the cabinets. Every volunteer that was polled reported this as their primary issue. So again, what can we do? If you have the resources, the ideal response is to be personally available to handle any discipline issues yourself. As a staff person, you best understand the church’s policies and procedures. If this is not an option, provide resources that will equip teachers. Ensure you’ve provided enough activities to engage the children for the entire duration. Provide “back up” activities for those who rush through the lessons. Have designated quiet space in the room for those who get overstimulated. When you provide options for teachers, it is less likely they get overwhelmed.


The best part? Because come on, teaching Sunday school cannot be all that bad!

- “Being with my kid” was in most teacher’s reply. For parents who work full time, there seem to be such few moments to truly engage with your child. Encouraging parents to be present with their child as they explore their faith is truly special. Even for those families who have a stay at home parent, realistically, how much of that time at home is spent in Christian Education?

Now, not everyone who teaches Sunday school is a parent of a child in the class. This brings even more opportunities for empty nesters, retirees, and even college students to engage with the children of our congregations.


- “Seeing the kids learn about God” - You would hope this reply would be an obvious answer, right? But many of the teachers who were asked were surprised at how this response came to them. One leader commented that they had hoped the kids would “get it” but being able to witness the moment they did was truly a Holy experience.


What now?


Poll your volunteers. Where do they stand? In keeping the lines of communication open with those who serve, a whole new world of opportunities will be brought to life. When I discovered that so many of my volunteers struggled with discipline in the classroom, I was able to address their concerns. Hearing that most parents feel inadequate when it comes to their own biblical knowledge gave our adult ministries new ideas to empower those people.


Remember we all have the same goal and help kids know that God loves them and wants a life long relationship.