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How do I involve current Sunday school teachers who don't want to change?

Churches are not known for being bastions of change and risk taking. Wrap that with a volunteer's passion for teaching and tendency to take ownership of a room and you have a recipe for resistance.

Changing their mind about change, or about Rotation is one thing (and not the subject of this discussion), but the reality in MOST churches is that we NEED our 'old' teachers to help with the new!  And they have gifts.  So Cindy C begins with the question: how do I get them on board?


Cindy C - Originally Posted 

Our church is trying to start the WoRM Sunday school program in the fall. I am concerned that a few of our current teachers are going to be resistant to the change from a traditional approach.

These teachers have years of experience and want to be involved on a weekly basis. However, their teaching styles and approach do not work well with the model. For example, they just want to work with one age group, and prefer having total control over all aspects of the teaching. Is there a good spot for these teachers? Can they be retrained?   I considered letting them be shepherds. BUT....I am concerned they would try to take over the teaching as they rotated to each workshop. I value their experience and I do not want to leave anyone out. Help!!


Neil MacQueen - Posted 

I had to chuckle about your question "is there a good spot for these teachers." I can think of a couple!

I wonder if your fears are well-founded.  I've met resistant teachers before, but once they see how it works, MOST come around. Seeing is believing. And those that don't get it, often move on to some other ministry.

I wonder if a good offense might be your best defense. For example, instead of 'demoting' them, why not ask them to be part of your CURRICULUM and DESIGN TEAM.  They have a wealth of knowledge and ideas that can be reshaped into Rotation formats.

Those teachers might also be good substitutes, and "trainers" for a new core of volunteers who have less experience.    If they are good teachers, they need to let it rub off on others and may appreciate the "promotion." Appealing to both their skill and ego is a good thing. We want good people to feel good about contributing their talents.

Your SCHEDULE will help you. Don't give them the option to wander around or follow a grade. Pretty soon, if my experience is normal, they will begin to appreciate teaching ALL the kids, rather than just one grade. In fact, play that up....that their expertise and passion will now reach ALL the kids.  And if they have expertise and passion, this is a good thing!

My guess is that after a while they'll settle in somewhere. 

I used to tell a story in my WoRM seminars about two teacher who resisted. They had co-taught the 2nd graders. Both 'quit'.  One came back a year later and said she had looked at the workshops and realized it was a good thing. She even volunteered to teach. The other...well, she stayed retired. And I had to ask myself, is a teacher "good" if they are inflexible and unwilling to try something new?  No. 

Cynthia - Posted 


We started the worm today. Of our eight former teachers who signed up to teach workshops, only 2 were hesitant.  They thought they wouldn't want to give up the relationships that form during the year being with the same kids, But after the first day, both teachers said "this was great! "

I'm hoping this enthusiasm will catch on with other teachers. I think sometimes it just takes getting something going before people fully understand what you're talking about and then the enthusiasm builds from there.

JanS - Posted 

I also experienced some of the same hesitations with "old" teachers when we began. I did encourage them to be Shepherds and really reinforced the "ministry" aspect of shepherding. Building relationships is vital.

Then I encouraged them to be prepared to help the children process and assimilate the workshop information at the end of the hour through journaling, questions, and answers etc. That was a way they could use their knowledge and great skills for teaching.

The change has been a positive one, once people actually experienced it. I think if you are flexible enough to find ways to let everyone's gifts be used it will be a joyful experience for all.

Jan FPC Napa - Posted

Interestingly enough, the majority of our pre-WoRM teachers have not been teaching now that we're doing rotation. Part of that reason I believe is because almost all our teachers were parents of kids in our Sunday school program, and they were ready for a much-needed rest after being the only ones who ever had their arms twisted ... er, um, volunteered ... to teach.

Rotation now pulls in all age/types of our members to lead workshops which is wonderful. I think it's perfectly fine to allow teachers from the "old school" to take a break, try something in another area of interest, or better yet in another area of children's ministry (do you have any other holes that need to be filled that they would be good at?).

When the same people do the same jobs all the time, it doesn't allow the fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit to pull new people in.

So maybe NOT having SOME of  your 'old' teachers sign up again isn't a bad thing.

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