Top 3 Challenges and Solutions for Sunday School Teachers
The Top 3 Challenges (and Solutions) for Today’s Sunday School Teachers
By Alison Zeller
Shelby told the church’s volunteer coordinator that she would help with Sunday school this year. She had been babysitting her nephews for years and she liked being around kids. But, now that she’s spent three months in the classroom, she’s rethinking her decision to volunteer. The lessons require more than an hour of planning, the program’s supply closet is bare, and well, being around so many kids has proved to be incredibly difficult.
There are Sunday school teachers just like Shelby in every ministry. They are challenged to their wit’s end! If you find yourself in the same situation - feeling underappreciated and overworked - don’t quit. Take a look at the top three challenges and solutions for Sunday school teachers. A few simply strategies can go a long way in making your job easier.
Challenge #1: A shoestring budget.
It’s an age-old challenge in ministry - tight budgets. The costs of Sunday school curriculum, snacks, and craft supplies add up quickly. What will you cut?
You may not have to cut anything. Here are some creative ways to stretch your Sunday school budget and maintain a quality program at the same time:
- Look for free curriculum. CTA offers several free children’s Ministry Messages in our Resource & Idea Center. These easy-to-use devotions are ideal for introducing a concept to your Sunday school class. Then, you can use CTA’s value-priced resources to expand the lesson. Also, look for CTA’s free event outlines. Each outline provides Bible-based activities for a one-hour event.
- Partner with a nearby church and share supplies. Create a plan to share the costs and rotate resources between your Sunday schools. For example, both churches could buy a reproducible curriculum one year and then swap curriculums the following year. In that second year, nobody pays for curriculum!
- Ask for donations. Many churchgoers may be eager to help with Sunday school, but they simply don’t have the time to plan a lesson or the patience to deal with a group of children. Ask for donations with a note in the church newsletter or a sign-up sheet on the church bulletin board. You could ask for food, craft supplies, gift cards, or any other special needs.
Challenge #2: The tough questions.
Teachers in every classroom will periodically have to face some tough questions. No, you may not be asked, “Where do babies come from?” but you will hear challenging questions related to God, Jesus, and our world today. Younger kids may want to know about death and wonder why God had Jesus die such a terrible death on the cross. Older kids may ask about “taboo” subjects like atheism, sex, or addictions.
Take this as a good sign - the kids are coming to you, a trusted Christian adult, for answers. Even so, you may feel uncomfortable and you may not know how to answer their questions. If you can, be honest and delicate when you’re answering. If you simply don’t have an answer, let them know that you’ll do your best to find the answer and report back to them.
You may also ask your Sunday school director or your pastor to create a handout with common questions and biblical answers for each age group. Since parents often face the same challenging questions, consider editing these handouts for parents and sending them home, too.
Challenge #3: Billy can’t behave.
Disruptions. Tantrums. Fights. Drama. Sunday school teachers see it all! In some ways, the Sunday school classroom is seen as a relaxed, rule-free environment. Some kids see the volunteer teachers as unauthoritative and take advantage of it. Some kids are too young or too immature to handle themselves.
No matter the reason, there are a few useful tips that will help you avoid classroom meltdowns:
- Set clear limits. Explain the five most important rules of your classroom and post them on the wall.
- Get to know your kids. Do a little research to find out how kids in your age group operate and how they develop. This way, you won’t have unrealistic expectations in your classroom. You’ll also be able to recognize when Billy is going down a potentially disruptive path.
- Keep the kids busy. No matter what age you’re teaching, keep them engaged and moving through the lesson at a pretty quick clip.
- If there’s a major problem, address it in private. Don’t single out the student in class - take time to speak with him or her and the parents at a different time.
Despite these challenges (and many more!), Sunday school is one of the most important programs in ministry. It provides children with a personal connection to the Bible stories and Jesus’ love. It also gives them time to make Christian friends and talk to trusted Christian adults - two great encouragers for children living in the secular world. So, Sunday school teachers, keep up the good work!
Editor’s note: If you’d like to show just how much you appreciate the work of your fellow Sunday school teachers, check out CTA’s volunteer appreciation gifts. Look for devotion books, coffee mugs, and ornaments to help you say thanks this holiday season.
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2016 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.