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More Links: Ten Great Reasons to Teach Sunday School | Teacher "Be-attitudes"


Below is a collection of Teacher Recruiting Tips, insights, practical experience, and best practices that apply to all forms of Sunday School, traditional or Rotation.org.

Your insights and great ideas welcome!

Be sure to read Val's "Teaching Teams" post below. It's really a great idea.



Take a look at our free Teacher Recruiting Handout:

Ten Great Reasons to Teach Sunday School

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Familiar and Not-so-familiar Recruiting Pools


Parents

This is obvious, but have you ever asked couples to teach together? Many are looking for things they can do together, and it can be a great way to promote serving and studying together.

Family Teams
This can include a grandparent and a teen. It can include a parent & child teaching together. One advantage of asking "units" is that they will tend to say "yes" if one person wants to do it.

"Come Teach with Me"
This is how I started teaching when I was 17 yrs old. Someone asked me to help them.

Former Youth Leaders
I have run into some older members who "used to help with youth group way back when" and don't feel they have the energy to work with youth anymore, or aren't sure they can connect with today's kids. But... these "old youth leaders" often still have a desire and rapport with kids that's alive and hungry to connect. 

"Helpers"
Some of my best recruits started out "just helping." Once they get over their fears or inexperience, they often turn into great teachers.

New Members
New members often come with a bunch of experience and are looking to connect. SELL IT to them like that!  it's a great way from them to connect with the kids' parents and other teachers, and immediately feel connected during that critical first year of their new membership.

Young Adult Couples
It's a bit of a cliche, but Sunday School kids can fill (or try-out) that "family feeling" some young unmarried couples are trying on for size.

Childless Older Couples or Empty-Nesters
The nurturing instinct doesn't go away. Many older adults are concerned they won't connect with today's kids or don't have the energy, but are pleasantly surprised.

Intergeneration Events
If there is only one reason to do at least one intergenerational event a year, it's to "spy" for potential recruits, and give them an opportunity to help lead.

YOU
If you're the Pastor or Church Educator reading this, put your name on the teaching list. Lead by example.

Don't make it harder than it already is...

Some churches make it HARD on themselves by their previous and current recruiting practices. In some churches, recruiting (and other things) have been so bad for so long that people don't believe what you're offering is going to be different or better this time. Volunteers have long memories.

While this advice was originally posted for Rotation Model churches, it applies to all types of Sunday Schools. 

Examples of How Churches Shoot Themselves in the Recruiting Foot:


 Asking experienced teachers for short commitments. Even though Rotation gives teachers four to five-week story commitments --it doesn't mean they can't keep teaching in subsequent rotations, or sign up for several across the year (without you having to go recruit them for every single time).  (Conversely, you want to "try out" folks who don't have much experience or you don't know well enough.)

 Needing too many volunteers because somebody thinks your 2nd graders shouldn't be in a class with your 3rd graders. Two small classes require more teachers and resources than one combined class.

 Too many people opting to become "shepherds" (or "helpers) instead of "teachers." While recruiting people to "help" is a great way to get them involved and train them, at some point you need to ask them to step up. (In the Rotation Model, some Rotation churches have eliminated the position of "shepherds" for just this reason. People were using it as an excuse to not fully engage.)

 Lame workshops or curriculum or rooms that don't attract people to teach. Classrooms should be designed to attract both kids and teachers.

 Not being asked!  YES....not being asked.   I've been a volunteer in churches where I'm sort of amazed that the CE person simply didn't ASK ME to help. I guess they figured I was too busy, or as a minister residing in their pews, too ministerial!  How many people in your church have never been personally ASKED to teach?

 Lack of material support. Leaders who don't get materials and supplies to their volunteers on-time, or don't follow up with them to see if they need help

 Lack of training and help. Many people say "no" after being left to fend for themselves.

 Keep asking the same person to do the recruiting --the same person who didn't do a great job of it last time.  Different people have different circles and approaches.

  Asking half of a married couple to teach rather than asking both. Many couples are looking for things to do together and not spend more time apart. Recruit couples where possible.

 Only asking parents. With training and help, many young adults can be good teachers. As well, today's "grandparent generation" is more agile than they were 30 years ago, and many retired folks have a deep bag of teaching experience and love for children to share.

 Pastors who don't support teachers and highlight their work to others. It's natural for many people not to want to volunteer for things that are under-appreciated or apparently not a high priority. (Pastors: attend classes and Sunday School events!)

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Interesting point, Neil...as we are almost through our third year, the teacher recruitment/training challenge is one that I constantly try to improve.


We have several teachers who do teach regularly, although we still recruit one rotation at a time. You've got me thinking...Maybe it's time to focus on recruiting for a longer stretch.

 

I have long thought that a good way to do teacher training in this model would be a planned "observation" period for new teachers. That would be easier to implement if we knew ahead of time who was teaching.

 

We are also considering creating a teacher training video that covers the basics of teaching for novices AND in particular demonstrates how to modify a lesson as the weeks go by and the children become more familiar with the story. Our newer teachers really have a hard time with that concept.

 

A few questions...

How far ahead do you schedule your sessions?

How do you manage the inevitable schedule requests when you plan ahead? "I can teach this weekend and this weekend, but not this weekend?"

Thanks,
Jaymie

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

We have used the following PLANNING SYSTEM for Rotation for three years and it seems to work -

 

--Next month I will meet with our design team and select the workshops for next year.

 

--Then one of the team members will make up nine newprint sheets for each unit. The sheets go up on the wall in the Education Wing in May. This sheet lists the four workshops we have each month and a brief description about the workshop and a place for a volunteer to sign up.

 

 

By making the lists so visible, many teachers want to GET THEIR NAME FILLED IN before all the slots are taken, ...and get into their favorite workshops on THEIR schedule.  (It also helps that they see everyone else doing their fair share of helping out.)

 

This way many workshops have leaders by the end of June! 

 

Some slots need persuasion....

 

If we have a workshop that I think is perfect for someone to teach I will "gently" ask them. Usually they say 'yes.' Usually we have all the workshops filled by Christmas. The teachers know when the holidays are coming up - it is mentiond on each sign up sheet. We usually don't have a problem with "sudden" vacations or problems- the teachers are very good about getting their own substitutes - all I ask is that they tell me what is going on. This system seems to work for us.

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

Rotating Teaching Teams

About 2 years ago we created "Teaching Teams" that rotate in and out of our Sunday School throughout the year.  I have 3 teams (Team A, Team B and Team C) which rotate throughout the year. That means each team will do 3 different rotations a year, which seems like just the right amount of commitment, and hard to say 'no' to.

The teams include the lead teachers for each workshop, their assistants and travel agent (shepherds) who direct children to their correct room and handles attendance. While there are some vacancies within the teams, they seem to be working quite well. And many of the teams recruit their own helpers/teachers. That's really a plus!

The Team gets together with me each time their rotation is about to come up. We go over the lessons and supply list. In many cases, each workshop team member makes sure they have the supplies they need.  This also creates a sense of comradery.   

And can I say it? ...there's even a little bit of competition BETWEEN the teams to really have super lessons in each workshop.

Safety in Numbers! 

People love the idea of being on a team.  And it's human nature to say "yes I'll help" if the date is far enough into the future, and not immediately pending!   

Working with Rotation Teaching Teams also makes sure we're not just getting "last minute warm bodies" to fill the lead teacher positions. And those unsure about teaching can get their feet wet as assistants, learning the ropes from their lead teachers.  In many cases, the team teachers are reaching out to spouses and friends to help them.

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Last edited by Neil MacQueen

I've found that asking for a small commitment opens them up to expanding that commitment as the year rolls on.

We recruit once a year in the spring for the next year -- asking them to sign up for a minimum of two 5-week rotations a year, plus one three-week summer rotation. 

After they sign up for a minimum, I can often ask them to add another rotation or two throughout the year to fill in our scheduling holes. Works great. big grin

Catherine

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

We too usually recruit one rotation at a time, but because most people are willing to teach it doesn't seem as onerous as we thought.

 

We spread out the recruiting among our "curriculum design team."

 

Each design team member recruits a teacher for the workshop he or she is writing and gets availabilities from the teacher so that we can work out the schedule. I put together a "potential teacher" list of all the people who had taught in the past and all the people who had indicated to me that they might like to teach sometime. If I know their gifts or preferences, I put that by their name in parentheses also. (ex. art or drama)

 

Our biggest problem with recruiting one rotation at a time is teacher training, so I'd really like to get away from that. We could be having teacher trainings every month or so! WHEW! The very thought wears me out!

 

My goal for this year is to be enough ahead in our planning that we can develop a mentor-type training. Teachers who will teach the next rotation will come and observe at least one week in the workshop they are scheduled to teach one time. I'm hoping that will help.
Good luck!

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

MAKE IT BIG!

 

I use large pieces of roll paper, 36" wide, and I cover 2 banquet tables with the paper ( one for each half of the year, note including summer.)

 

Across the top, I write columns with the workshops, then for rows, I write the story and all the dates for each rotation. This makes a large grid, with boxes for the person to write in their name for a workshop!

 

I write in the activity if I know it, but as other people have said, folks usually base it on their schedule.

 

Other suggestions:

Leave a space on the calendar to place special cookies or coffee cake which a member gets for signing up during coffee hour. Bribery works, and it gets the point across.

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

Carol posted this for member Michelle....


Pick a Theme for a Congregation-wide Recruiting Pitch

I try to pick a theme for each year's recruiting.

This year's theme: be a super-hero. Our recruitment kickoff highlighted a visit from a super-hero during the worship announcements. We had a sign-up table with the super-hero in the main entry. 

The script is below. Adapt it for your own use in the future.



'SUPER HERO' VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT SKIT

Michelle(M): Good morning. It’s that time of year again -- time to start some serious thinking about Sunday School. The curriculum is planned, the rooms are in the process of being prepared, and this morning we start registration for the children. There’s just one missing piece-volunteers. We need some caring volunteers who can help make the learning experience for our children wonderful!

Sunday School Guy (SS): (Swoops in from sacristy wearing red cape, stands with arms on hips and speaks in a loud voice.) Did I hear someone say “help?” (moves to microphone.)

M: Uh….I guess I did. But who are you?

SS: I’m Sunday School Guy. Wherever there is a need in Sunday School programs around the world, I’ll be there to help set things right. What can I do for you?

M: What can you do? I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Are you here to help recruit volunteers?

SS: Recruit volunteers? I’m THE volunteer! With me on board, your problems are solved. No class is too large, no concept too complicated, no task too big…

M: (interrupts) I see. So I take it you’re an experienced teacher.

SS: Absolutely. What class needs a teacher?

M: We could use someone to teach 3rd Graders

SS: (interrupts) I can do that

M: ….AND Middle School….

SS: Uh, well, (thinks) Of course, no problem! But can I have a sidekick?

M: Of course.

M: AND we could use group leaders to shepherd three different groups of younger children.

SS: Whoa…. Wait a minute there missy! I can’t do ALL of that by myself! I might be a Super Hero, but I think you may have found my limits.

M: Really?

SS: I’m afraid so.

M: Well, that’s okay. I was about to talk to all of these great people about how they could help before you stepped in.

SS: I see. Well…why don’t you continue. I’ll just wait here.

M: What I was about to say, is this-- Our Sunday School program is in need of volunteers. Teachers and leaders are needed for both short term and long term assignments. The resources have been collected. Now we need people-people who care about our kids and are willing to share a few hours of their time. No experience in necessary. You don’t have to be a super hero to do this.

SS: But you know, anyone who teaches Sunday School IS a hero! You’ll be spending time teaching the next generation of disciples! Just think about what they could do someday because you took the time to teach! Anyone who shares the Good News of Jesus with our children is a hero in my book. (to congregation) This is your chance to be a hero!

M: You know, you have a point there. This is an opportunity to let our children know they are cared for and to help them learn important faith lessons. I know there are several of you with us today who have a hero inside you just waiting to get out.

SS: And remember, even Super Heroes have to start somewhere. Just because you haven’t done it before isn’t an excuse.

M: I’ll be in the gathering place after worship today. If you have questions or would like to sign up, please stop by and see me. More information about the program is available as well. It’s not an impossible task, but as our friend here was quick to point out, it’s a task that will take several of us working together. Be a part of Sunday School this year, and you just might be a hero for one of our children. Thank you.

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Member DALE asked,

"WHY are we finding it HARDER to recruit?"

Here is a collection of answers he received. They apply to non-Rotation Sunday Schools as well.

1. People eventually tune-out the same old pitch and newness can wear off. This is why many rotation churches look for "breaks" in their schedule, makeovers, and exciting changes every year or two to recapture people's enthusiasm.

2. Some years, recruiting doesn't go well. Like all things, it can ebb and flow. But some of those seemingly difficult years can be an opportunity for change, and a chance for others to step up.

3. The answer "No" could be the sign of something else that's wrong. What else is going on that could be psyching people out? ((Confession is good for the soul))  A church that's struggling or having pastor troubles can put a damper on recruiting.

4. Sometimes, it's the recruiter who's run out of gas. In the 'volunteerism literature/books' -they note that recruiters typically recruit from their own "well" of people they know or are likely to approach, and that well can run dry some years. Solution: find different recruiters who can tap other sources.

5. General announcements for volunteers usually don't work. Over time, you need to change your pitch and approach. 

6. All churches have SOMETHING they don't do well, or have "short attention spans" about. Habits, expectations, etc are hard to get rid of. Some churches develop a culture of helping, and some a culture of sitting back. Usually, they take after the pastor's attitude and example. Get the pastor involved this year.

7. Is your curriculum too hard? Too boring?  Maybe people are shying away from the material.

8. Everyone responds to "new and improved" and grows weary of "same old." This doesn't mean you need to ditch your curriculum, but how about pitching a new workshop or reimagining your hallways and classrooms, or making some changes to the schedule. etc.

The Times They Are a-Changin'

  • More single parent households
  • More parents working on the weekend
  • More weekend options, travel, sports.
  • Secular culture that makes not going to church feel "ok."
  • More businesses/entertainment/events open early on Sunday.
  • Desire to spend more time with family at home.
  • Demographically speaking, generations since the Baby Boom generation volunteer fewer hours.
  • Younger generation more skeptical of church as an institution than were previous generations.
Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Hi Dale

Committee members have suggested that if we would only make it easier for people to volunteer, it would solve the problem. While I am a firm believer in being volunteer friendly and providing support, affirmation and encouragement, I fear that too often in church our response is how to make things "easy".

None of the coaches of the sports teams have set the goal of making it "easy" for kids to participate. They set the rules about attendance at practices and games, and if someone does not want to make the sport a priority, they don't have to participate.

I wonder, do we in the church try so hard to make it easy that we send the wrong message? 

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

re: solving the inevitable build up "been there done that"

Here's a concept discussed in long-range curriculum planning we have called the:

"SUNDAY SCHOOL YEAR OF JUBILEE"

In short: Jubilee is "the year of doing many things differently." 

Jubilee gets its cue from the Old Testament idea of forgiving debts every 7 years, only in the case of Sunday School, it's a "year of doing everything differently."  

After five or six years of Rotation (or any model) it's time to take a break. More importantly, you can LEARN from the break. So you all agree to force yourselves to most things entirely differently for an entire program year (or at least part of it). And you agree to new leaders (asking them to plan the Jubilee year well in advance). 

Many of these ideas have been floating around a long time. They just don't get the SPACE and TIME to get done because of other standing commitments. But you tell the regular program juggernaut to step aside for a while, you suddenly have space and time and leaders to help you do different things.

Ideas for doing things differently:

  • Parent and siblings join in special new workshops.
  • A month of morning breakfasts, songs, creative lesson.
  • Prep and present a musical or play.
  • An intergenerational season. 
  • Hold Sunday School in a tent during the month you are renovating a room or two.
  • Create a brand new workshop during the Jubilee --having groups work on it to result in an amazing new space after Jubilee is over.
  • Create 'family units' who meet after worship instead of regular Sunday School time for burgers, a study, and a game.
Last edited by Neil MacQueen

When we started rotation 7ish years ago, we had the same problem...we did a couple of things that work beautifully!

SHORTER ROTATIONS: We started rotation for 6 weeks and found that just was way too long, so we played with it for a couple years and are down to FOUR weeks per rotation. Teachers will commit to FOUR weeks...and if they don't, no big deal.

 

EASIER LESSONS: Our lessons are so easy to follow that anyone can jump in and sometimes with busy schedules we have that happen where a teacher can only be there for one week out of the three. We have a few folks on standby who jump in. Last week a teacher was late and the lesson plan was so easy that the shepherd just took over. Worked great and he even commented to me how easy and straightforward it all was. Piece of cake!

MORE HELP in OTHER WAYS:   We created and passed around "Hey Everyone Let's Participate" sheets asking each and every single parent to do something. They HAVE to pick at least one thing they can do - teach, shepherd, help with Living Last Supper, Movie Days, bring snacks, supplies, etc. We get huge participation on that. We ask for email addresses and then contact them throughout the year when we need to do things.

SIMPLIFIED TRAINING and MORE PREP "FOR" TEACHERS: We made it easier to teach by having a small team do more of the lesson supplying and workshop setup for the volunteers.

 

LESS WORDY and LESS THEORY:  We dropped some of the intimidating explanations and expectations for certain workshops.  Now we have a format that no matter who you are, if you are a seasoned teacher or not - you can walk into the classroom, grab the folder and teach with minimum prep. In this folder (made up for each workshop leader) is a Common Threads Sheet that includes the memory verse, tips on teaching, objectives, opening prayer and story. Then each folder has the Workshop Discussion and Activity. All crafts are set out ready to roll with a sample...same with all the workshops. Everything is set up and the teacher just has to show up.

BREAKS IN THE SCHEDULE.

LEAD TEACHERS:   Another thing that we did when we started is we had a seasoned workshop leader work with an "assistant" so they could listen and learn.

CHANGES:  Instead of every year being the same, we changed up some approaches, workshops, even teaching.  Most recently, we have had some of our 9th grade students teaching the workshops and are finding that these kids love it, too. They are developing leadership skills, and the younger kids truly look up to the older ones.


Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm
I hear your pain, and have been there, but right now I'm in a "hooray Big Grin" place.

After years of struggling, we're actually having a good year with teachers! (this is year 6 for us) For the first time, I am not teaching this group at all and none of my other faithful teachers is having to double up and teach drama and movies, for example.

How did this happen?

One possibility is that our congregation is actually growing, ever so slightly, for the first time in a long time. That has little to do with rotation, and more to do with a lot of other things we've been working on at the church. So point number one is that you may need to step back and look at the bigger picture. But not all my new teachers are new members, so...

A second possibility is that we, the co-pastors, just stopped teaching this program, despite the constant shortage of teachers. We decided last fall to focus on adults and youth group Sunday and Wednesdays and took ourselves out of the equation. And lo and behold other people started taking on leadership roles. In the short-run we condensed -- no computer lab on Wednesdays, no art or movies on Sundays, because we didn't have the teachers. Perhaps people didn't like seeing those rooms go unused. Perhaps having better youth and adult programs means that more adults are there and willing to do something. Who knows? Lesson two, sometimes the more you do, the less people feel the need to do themselves.

A third possibility is that is has taken this long for people to really understand the program. Despite newsletter articles, tours, teacher training, and powerpoint presentations, I think there were a lot of people who just didn't get it the first, or second, or third time. Keep introducing it as thought it is a "new" program, explaining what it's all about.

A fourth possibility is that they finally realized what they had. We did a workshop in January explaining the model to other people and asked our members to come to this event to help out. I think seeing other people coming to our church, learning about the program, getting excited and asking questions made some folks realize, wow, this is a good program.

In any case, I have more teachers and shepherds than I've ever had before. So, bottom line, there's hope.

I am looking forward to January, when our six year scope ends and the developing lessons sets is over and I can relax, a little, as we start repeating, and slightly revamping old lesson plans. Hopefully then I can also go back to some of those who taught before and stopped and say "I know you already taught this lesson and was wondering..." as a way of bringing more people into the workshop leader fold.

Peace,
Lisa

Originally Posted by Heather Eaton

We used this "Top Ten" list as an attention getter on a flyer we included in the bulletin during a major education/recruiting campaign, and then added details about what volunteering entails to the bottom of it.

On the first Sunday that we used it, we showed an illustrated "top 10" PowerPoint during our announcements segment in church as well.

Top Ten Reasons YOU
should volunteer in Children’s Ministries


10. Its good for your HEART!

9. You get to pick what age kids you work with.

8. CE provides the curriculum and supplies each week – no more reading lessons during Saturday Night Live and running to the 24-hour grocery store for supplies!

7. You’ll FINALLY learn all those Bible stories you didn’t want to admit you never learned while you were in Sunday School.

6. You’ll spend 9 weeks being totally adored (by people under 4 feet tall!!)

5. It lets the kid in you come out and play – using Bodysox and Boomwhackers is more fun than you can shake a stick at!

4. You’ll see the wonders of God through the eyes of a child.

3. Children teach us what absolute joy looks like - and what better place to experience that than in church?

2. And if those reasons aren't ideal, here is one more that could appeal: When you teach you just might find your own beliefs get more refined.

And the #1 reason…
1. Because YOU have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child.


Alternate Humorous Version posted by Neil:

(to be revealed one at a time a la Letterman)

Top 10 Reasons To Teach Sunday School

10. We got rid of the nuns.

9. Because Jesus wants you for a sunbeam.

8. All the free Sunday School paste you can eat.

7. Because you're wife tells everyone you're an old fart, and you want to prove her wrong.

6. One word: Timbits

5. So you can finally learn the lessons you didn't pay attention to when YOU were a kid. 

4. Free Brunch at Pastor Bob's Today with every sign-up  (just kidding Pastor Bob's wife)

3. Because Sunday School teachers get a 10% Rebate on their Tithe, right Mr. Treasurer?

2. Because we had to teach YOUR kid, so it's your turn to teach OURS!

And reason #1 Why You Should Teach Sunday School....

---Because the adult class is tired of you asking to go to the bathroom


Here's a slightly different version of it.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Don't be afraid to ask people to lead another stretch even if they've just finished teaching for a bit. Many volunteers WANT and LIKE to teach. The Rotation Model simply gives them opportunities and flexibility to say "yes," throughout the year for specified chunks of time, and opportunities to opt-out during certain times of the year when their schedule requires it. 

People like defined commitments with specific beginning and ending dates, but that doesn't mean they want to quit when the ending date comes up.

I am always on the lookout for new leaders - especially in different groups that are "outside" of the typical recruitment "market" (meaning, beyond just asking the parents.)

We have leaders who are still teaching workshops even though their kids have "graduated" from our program. Also have leaders who have no kids. And we have leaders who have grandkids!

Whenever I meet someone for the first time at church I always ask, "what keeps you busy?" (Talents and gifts).  Then as they tell me about their interests I file it away - I have been known to design a workshop to use someone particular talents!

 

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Right now it's pretty much Me going up to people in person or over the phone and asking them to help anytime from next week to a few months from now. I still put things in the church newsletter, on facebook etc... but that's never had much of a response. I've asked for suggestions from the children's ministry committee, and while they're good ideas they're time intensive and no one was willing to implement them. I generally ask for a team of three to do a month at a time (the idea being they trade off preparation), but I'm doing well to get two. We have one class 1st-5th but we hope to split into two classes in the next couple months. I did poke around hear and note that it's better with one class to have a different teacher each week, so I'm implementing that and trying to be very loud about how it's even less time than before! :-)

 

Most people seem to decline if I ask more than two months in advance so I've stopped doing that except with a few people. After a three month creative campaign we had quite a few people interested but they disappeared rather fast, usually after one or two months of helping. Two years later I'm finally getting a few explanations why beyond "we're too busy then, and then... and then too", and while I'm fixing those problems as I'm able, people don't seem to want to try again. Frankly I'm also burned out on recruiting, and frustrated in general since doing a lot of things myself doesn't leave me with the time to build relationships and explore peoples skills and preferences. We've a small, older congregation and a lot of them don't realize how much they still have to offer kids.

 

 

 

SEK,

 

I've been sitting here for 30 minutes, reading through the above suggestions and experiences, and trying to figure out how best to respond to you.

 

First, I feel your pain. I know that recruiting is the most difficult part of being Sunday school coordinator. No one likes to ask for help and get negative responses; this seems like the inevitable path to burn-out. You definitely need help, not just new recruits, but maybe even a new recruiting team and the encouragement that working with a team brings. I almost always fail when, like Super Sunday School Guy above, I try to do the jobs I was recruiting other people for.

 

Like some of the folks who responded above, I have been most successful when working with a small group. I'm not clear how your children's ministry committee is involved, but maybe asking them to be more "hands-on" in recruiting is a beginning.

 

If they're appointed and beyond your control and don't see recruiting as part of their task, maybe a leader-mentoring group could be effective. Gather your most effective leaders for a one-time workshop to review what's been done and make a new plan. It sounds like you had an effective creative workshop at one time that stirred up some excitement. How can you do that again, in another way?

 

And, yes, be prepared for the excitement to diminish as the other demands of life intervene. There clearly aren't any magic answers. When I'm really feeling discouraged, I try to put on my persistent widow personality, and it always makes me smile that "nagging" is so scriptural.

 

Hang in there and keep us posted!

 

Anne

(Revised and re-posted to this discussion)

A lot has been written about recruiting (and should be read).  Perhaps the biggest truth about volunteer recruitment is that it is often VERY dependent on your church's culture of volunteering. Changing that culture, and not merely scrambling for warm bodies, may be the larger issue that the entire church needs to address, as it no doubt affects other areas of the church as well.



Here are a couple of observations regarding recruitment:

(1)  Ask yourself this honest question: Who is doing the recruiting?

In some churches, the answer is "no one," or "one person," or "announcements."  All three answers are wrong, but I meet a lot of "lone rangers" out there who can't see that they need to change.  

The other problem I've seen is recruiters who are lousy at their job. They don't recruit well, or prep well, or get materials to recruits in time.

One of the things the lone range may need to change is letting someone else take on the job. Some recruiters would rather "do it themselves" than make a few phone calls. Some people don't know how to get others to say "yes."

(2) I would also look to your Juniors and Seniors in High School. They typically are mature enough to teach (with some training) and not that interested in sitting with 9th graders in youth class.

(3) I have also had good luck recruiting ENTIRE FAMILIES:  Mom, Dad, Grandma, college student, teen. --to teach as a family.  I made a point of going to their house and soliciting their creative input on the "skits" workshop they were going to do.  A lot easier to approach them afterwards for more teaching.

The answer is to get out of your recruiting box.

More recruiting advice collected here:


Member Jaymie Posted:

Enlisting volunteers is ALWAYS a challenge. 

One of the things I like about the Rotation Model is that we always need "helpers" or "shepherds" and not just teachers. Those positions are "less preparation" and thus easier to recruit for. And those helpers are a great source for future teachers!

Think beyond just parents -- grandparents, older teens, college students, adults whose kids are teens or grown, etc.). You can add 1 or 2 extra helpers to the class and handle a lot more kids than you can with just a teacher and 1 shepherd. 


 
Member Dawn posted:

I've found that our parents say "yes" when they know each other. Our family ministry has greatly helped our recruiting. They understand that when it is "their turn to teach" they need the other parents to get their kids there as a show of support.  Takes the "anonymity" out of the program. Makes it personal like "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."

It has also helped to have one of our dads do the recruiting of other dads for some of the workshops like our computer lab. 

We also approached two theatrical teens and their local-theater mom to lead our Drama workshop.  They were doing High School plays and community theater and had lots of good ideas for our lessons.

I sometimes CREATE a specific workshop and lessons specifically FOR a special person in our congregation with specific talents. I approached several older ladies to lead a "gardening workshop" last spring, and had a carpenter to do a "bird house" workshop project in June (consider the lillies of the field and birds of the air" was our rotation.  Once I got them to help, they've been willing to do other things too.

Here is a copy of our Rotation SS sign up board for the whole year.  We have our big recruitment of teachers on Rally Day and then this board stays up in our fellowship hall for the Sunday School year and people can continue to sign up. I get the first rotation story filled before Rally Day-so the board isn't blank.  I do this by calling or emailing people who I know who will teach.  I also PRAY about recruitment of teachers and try to let the Lord handle the sign up board!  As the SS year progresses, when there are blank Sundays, I ask people to teach (in person) and that usually works.  Thanks for additional ideas about recruitment on this forum!  We are starting our 10th year of Rotation SS at First Pres Jackson, TN!!23920

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Hi, @Lisa Spurlin! Thanks for sharing with a picture! That is very helpful!!  

Question: it looks like you have just one person sign up for each workshop. Do you have a shepherd who is with the group all the time? Or just one teacher in the room? Is it the same shepherd all year for each group or how do you schedule that?

Thanks! We are getting ready to start rotation soon, and will have just one group to start with but hope to grow to two groups soon.

Amy  

 

@Amy Crane I serve as the shepherd for Grades 3rd-5th all year and we have a paid "nursery worker" (the same one) who serves as the shepherd for Grades K-2nd all year.  This has worked well for us through out the years.  We started out as one group but now we have grown and divided into two groups.  I think that one group at the beginning helps you "ease" into the rotation process!  Many blessings for a successful year!  

So many good ideas and observations above! The truth is that most of the time new teachers are developed by relationship. We do spiritual gifts assessments in worship one Sunday every year. This helps me find people who have the gifts that might make them interested in teaching. I try to recruit 3 or 4 new teachers each year but I have teachers who have taught for 10 years and still love doing it!  This gives flexibility. With new teachers I team teach with them or ask a seasoned teacher to do so. It is my experience that someone needs to teach with a seasoned teacher at least one full month in a row or at least 2 weeks one month and 2 weeks the very next month to really learn what to do.  With the big screen and computer system we use for song worship and other workshops such as computers, movie theater, etc. someone needs to learn how to use all of those systems and be comfortable with them so they can focus on the kids and the lesson material. (Kids are a wonderful resource when teachers get stumped on media though!)

Most people want to be asked in person to volunteer for any ministry. That being said, once they have been personally asked and trained most are willing to continue to serve and sign up on their own - with a little prodding!  We use Signup.com for this. You can set up your Kids worship times and list the number of teachers, shepherds you need. You send a link to the volunteers and they sign up for the weeks they are available to serve. The site reminds them the week prior to their Sunday to teach, shepherd, etc.  I have used this site for about 4 years now and it does take some of the burden off. I send group reminders through Signup.com when it is time to sign up for the next quarter and have many people that regularly sign up that way. There are always those who do not prefer that method. For them I text, email or at last resort call to fill spots that are not filled.

My experience has been that people love to teach the kids and learn so much themselves through teaching. The fear the regular church-goer feels is that they will not know enough Bible and will be embarrassed in front of the kids. My pastor and I reiterate to the congregation as often as possible that the best answer when kids ask a question you do not know the answer to is,"I don't know but I will find out and let you know next week." That way everyone learns!

I hope some of this helps. I have learned so much from Rotation and the articles here!

Last year (our first year of rotation)  we found ourselves kind of scrambling to keep up with having curriculum ready early enough to recruit additional teachers.  We took this summer off to get the next year's curriculum ready and come at everything this year with a more concrete plan (ha - imagine that!) 

We are recruiting teachers (only 6 months out) during all of August using an information table alongside a fun pool of objects that we'll be using this year in our workshops (pics below). The added visual is creating a buzz...and as a nice bonus, creating excitement and curiosity among the kids.  We staff our table before and after worship.  In addition to basic workshop information for each month, we also have a "Trail Guides" job description (which includes attending a scheduled orientation/training), pics of kids in workshops last year,  a handout that identifies which rotation is using each technique, i.e. cooking in Oct., Nov. and Feb.

Those who sign up to teach, or indicate they are interested,  are added to a "secret" fb group that we will use to share ideas and resources, encourage each other, and hopefully grow together as we serve our kids and families.  All our curriculum is uploaded there, too, so they can browse when it's convenient for them.  We have also extended an open invitation for anyone to shadow us during our September rotation. 

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