Have you ever played on a winning team? What was the secret of your success?
Baudeville, a company that specializes in affirmation resources, has created a line of T.E.A.M. The letters stand for "Together Everyone Accomplishes More." Has that been your experience? Maybe we could adapt their acronym for Sunday School to, "T.E.A.M.--Together Everyone Achieves Ministry."
When I first began teaching in Sunday School, I taught alone, That's the way it was always done. After all, public schools had one teacher per class, and their classes often included 30 students. If one teacher could work with 30 students all day, then surely one teacher could manage 10 children for one hour in Sunday School.
Yes, I was following the public school model for learning, but was I following a biblical model for discipling? No.
In the New Testament discipling was most often done at least in pairs and often in teams.
Jesus led a team of 12. When He sent out 72 disciples for a ministry internship, He sent them in pairs. On his first missionary trip, Paul ministered with Barnabas; on the second, with Silas. At least once, Paul ministered with a husband and wife team, Priscilla and Aquila. In letters to the churches, Paul would often request that a helper be sent to him. The discipleship model in the New Testament is a team model.
Teams allow children to receive more individual attention in God's house.
Relationships are important in discipleship. According to Jesus, the two most important commands involve relationships--loving God and loving one another. Young children learn about love as they receive love. Teaching teams allow teachers to model biblical love to individual students more of the time.
Teams promote more learning.
While one teacher is focused on teaching the Bible verse or telling the story, other teachers can respond to the many "unplanned" moments that occur during ministry to young children. Every early childhood class includes these unplanned moments. A child cries for a parent. Another needs to "go"--now! One child starts a chain reaction by touching someone. All early childhood teachers know how quickly the unexpected can distract from the Bible lesson. When a team is teaching, the planned lesson can continue for most children while the helping team responds to needs as they arise.
Teams can share responsibility for lesson preparation.
Young children learn more when they are actively involved in Bible lessons. Young children need more help to be actively involved. They have short attention spans, so they need more activities in each lesson. All of these early childhood traits translate into more teacher preparation. Teams can divide up preparation. Sharing preparation responsibility allows quality Sunday Schools to flourish even with 21st Century day-to-day schedules of volunteer teachers.
Teams incorporate more spiritual gifts into ministry.
One teacher may be a gifted storyteller. Another may have musical talent. A third may be gifted with wonderful people skills or with creative craft thinking. All of these gifts contribute to the spiritual growth of children, but on a team, no one has to do them all. In the parable about the talents, the man with one talent was not scolded for having only one talent. He was scolded for not investing the talent he had. Teaching teams allow everyone to use their talents.
"On a team, no one has to do them all."
Sometimes two people form a team.
One may be experienced; the other, new to early childhood. The experienced teacher can become a teaching mentor who teaches while the second teacher provides an extra set of hands for helping during the lesson. As time goes by, the helper may begin to prepare and present parts of the lesson that match his interests and aptitudes. Ultimately, as a church grows and classes are added the helper can become a lead teacher and a mentor for someone else.
Sometimes on a team of two, both members are skilled teachers.
From the beginning this team can share both preparation and presentation of Bible lessons. While one teacher takes the lead, the other can prepare for the next segment, help students complete a previous segment, help children who are distracted, or participate with children in the lesson activity.
Sometimes both teachers are novices.
In this case teachers can support one another as they learn. They can divide lesson presentation based on their personal interests and aptitudes. They can evaluate the children's responses to their lesson segments, and brainstorm alternatives together. They can encourage one another and build each other when lessons go well.
A team can also include three to six members.
With larger teams, lesson presentation can be divided many ways.
Each teacher can supervise a learning center and/or a lesson segment. One teacher may be a greeter and recordkeeper during one segment and a worship leader or game guide during another. Once again, these kinds of decisions can be based on interests, abilities, and commitment levels of team members.
Teams are wonderful for children!
Children see how adult Christians work together in ministry. They develop relationships with more godly people who love them. Bible lessons improve in quality and more adults and youth invest in ministry. Team members not only share ministry but also friendship with one another. It's true--Together Everyone Achieves Ministry.
Sharon Ellard is promotions coordinator, Sunday School Department, Springfield, Missouri.Sunday School. All rights reserved. Used with permission.