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

Below in this topic is a collection of Sunday School Teacher recruiting tips, insights, practical experience, creative ideas, and best practices that apply to all forms of Sunday School, traditional or Rotation.

Your insights and great ideas welcome!

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

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Print our free Teacher Recruiting Handout PDF:

Ten Great Reasons to Teach Sunday School


It's a fun way to get people thinking about "saying yes."
Not a member yet? Join now!

10. Teaching is a great way to get back into your Bible.

9. You will become an instant hero to parents and the pastor.

8. Kids will start waving at you in church.


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Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Original Post

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Familiar and Not-so-familiar Recruiting Pools

...where to look for potential Sunday School teachers

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. Keep in mind that "families" can also mean young adults in your church looking to spend time with one another in meaningful ways. 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 and I was flattered by their appeal, not to any innate sense of my ability. Discovering diamonds in the rough are one of the joys of recruiting.

People Who Want to Start Reading and Studying the Bible More
One of the great secrets of Sunday School teachers is that they use lesson preparation and teaching as part of their Bible study routine. For those who feel like they "don't know enough" --having to prepare and teach is a great Bible study routine to get into.  The Corollary to this is people who care about kids and say they want to make a difference in the world. Well here's your chance.

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.

Some of my best recruits started out "just helping." Once they get over their fears or inexperience, they often turn into great teachers.  This is also a reason to always be asking people for minimum one-time commitments. You'll discover more teachers that way.

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 for them to connect with the kids' parents and other teachers, and immediately feel connected during their first critical year being a new member.

Young Adult Couples (Married and Unmaried)
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 just because you can't have children or your children have grown. Many older adults are concerned they won't connect with today's kids or don't have the energy, but are pleasantly surprised.

Intergenerational 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.

If you're the Pastor or Church Educator reading this, put your name on the teaching list. Lead by example, and don't let your teacher chops and experience get stale or go untapped.

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

Some churches make it HARD to recruit volunteers because of past practices and poor leadership. 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 two lead teachers instead of one because somebody thinks your 2nd graders shouldn't be in the same 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. And some people are lousy at recruiting.

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 40 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!)

Not communicating regularly, checking in, encouraging, and helping your current teachers (especially your new teachers). Recruiting is easier if you have fewer slots that need filled. Don't burn your current commitments.


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Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Interesting points, 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 "come teach with me" sessions?

(Neil answers: I'll accept any date they offer, next Sunday, next month, even "how about now?" I don't ask them to "observe" but rather "help" and then give them some notes ahead of time and on-the-fly guidance during class.)

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

(Neil answers: When they are "assisting" I'll take any time they can offer. Filling in with last minute helpers is par for the course in any program. I ask my CE committee to "make the rounds on Sunday to see who needs help."  I even got the pastor to stay and help.  I like your "training videos" idea, but having someone mentor/model to others in an actual lesson is usually the best way to apply what they've heard or seen.)


Last edited by Neil MacQueen

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 four-week Bible story "rotations" a year  -- a 12 Sunday commitment.  (In our Rotation Model, we teach one story for four weeks in a row.)

We've found that 12 weeks is harder to say "no" to, and makes our volunteers more likely to say "yes" the next time we ask them. Most, in fact, sign up for more than one team per year!

FYI: Rotating Teaching Teams are also a tried-and-true idea
for traditionally organized Sunday Schools too!

In some cases, the Teams teach for just one four-week rotation. Others prefer back to back or doing an entire fall or winter season. Some teachers still want a longer commitment and that's fine. I'll sign them up for several teams. The flexibility is part of the attraction of recruiting Teams, as is recruiting them for specific stories (some teachers prefer certain stories, especially those less familiar with the Bible or teaching).

In our Rotation Sunday School, the Teams I recruit include the lead teachers for each workshop, their assistants (if they don't want to recruit their own, such as a family member), plus a "travel agent" (who go with each group of kids to each workshop, aka. "shepherds"). 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 --which often includes a teen or spouse. That's really a plus!

The Team gets together with me each time their Bible story 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


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 to ask them to commit to several four or five week "rotations" a year.

We spread out the recruiting among our "curriculum design team" (the people we pull together to create each Rotation on a Bible story)

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!  That's why I like the idea of having a workshop leader help the recruited teacher on the first week with the lesson in their four or five week Rotation.

My goal for this year is to be enough ahead in our planning that we can develop a better 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 Neil MacQueen


To get people's attention at church, 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 Neil MacQueen

Pick a Theme for a Congregation-wide Recruiting Pitch

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

SuperSundaySchoolTeacher-graphic-Rotation.orgThis 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 as you like.


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.



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Member DALE asked,

"WHY are we finding it HARDER to recruit Sunday School teachers?"

Here is a collection of answers he received from our members. 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 low expectations 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. So....Get the pastor involved this year, and be more public about appreciating your volunteers.

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.

9. It might be YOU. Some leaders aren't good at "asking" or "inspiring." Take a good long look in the mirror.You might be great with kids or creativity, but not naturally appealing or charismatic to adults. If that's true about you, you need someone else to help do the recruiting.

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.

Part of the answer to these "changes" is to make "making a commitment" easier to try and less overwhelming. See some of the other ideas in this topic for creating easier ways to get involved rather than having to sign up for a 40 week commitment or being a lead teacher.

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:


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.


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 " place

After years of struggling to find people, we're actually having a good year getting teachers!

How did this happen?

One possibility is that our congregation is actually growing, ever so slightly, for the first time in a long time. However, not all my teachers are new members, rather, our church has recommitted to its adult and youth ministries and that seems to have re-energized people across the board.

A second possibility is that the co-pastors stopped regularly teaching in the program, and lo and behold other people started taking on leadership roles. People step up when they see a clear need.

A third possibility is that we sometimes reduced the "slots" we needed leaders and helpers for --consolidating some of our groups and teaching needs. Did we make it easier to participate? Maybe.

A fourth possibility is that not everyone understood our new Rotation-style program (and didn't read what we were sending them), so it took time for people to get used to it and see the results of what we were doing, and then they jumped on board.


Shortened for clarity by a volunteer

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Here are several different versions of "Top Ten Reasons" for teaching Sunday School that we've collected from our members. Feel free to add yours by replying below. Be sure to check out's printable handout ~ "Top Ten Reasons to Teach Sunday School."

Top Ten Reasons YOU
should volunteer in Children’s Ministries

A "top ten" list from member Heather Eaton who wrote to say they turned it into a PowerPoint that they presented during worship announcements to recruit Sunday School teachers.

10. It's good for your HEART!

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

8. We provide you with all the supplies your lesson needs each week. no more 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 will be 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.

Here's a humorous "top ten" that was posted by Neil a few years ago:

(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  (remember to tell Pastor Bob)

3. Because Sunday School teachers get a 10% Rebate on their Tithe, right Church 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. created another "Top Ten Reasons to Teach Sunday School" in a nice format that you can share with teachers as a printout or email to them. To open it, you must be signed in as a free Registered or Supporting Member.

Print: Ten Great Reasons to Teach Sunday School


It's a fun way to get people thinking about "saying yes."
Not a member yet? Join now!


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Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Don't be afraid to ask people to lead some more after they've completed their commitment.

Many volunteers WANT and LIKE to teach and aren't ready to take a break (or take a long break). One of the great things about Rotation Model scheduling is that it creates many opportunities to plug into the program with each new story rotation, or take a short or seasonal break.

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's particular talents!

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

A lot has been written about recruiting (and should be heeded).  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, has to be one of your long-term strategies, while in the meantime you make some changes in who and how you recruit.

I was once part of a church that was a classic "low participation" congregation, and guess what? They attracted people to whom "low participation" appealed! It took years to turn that around, and it really helped that we started a young adult/family ministry to attract "engaging" people who wanted more. Some of those who rose to the occasion were long-time members who were ready to say "yes" to something different. Others were new members who were attracted to our revitalized children and family ministry and wanted to connect with their new church.  No, we didn't become one of those over-heated "gotta be here" churches with endless numbers of things to do. Instead, we emphasized quality over quantity. When adults are happy with what they are seeing and the kids are doing, they are more likely to say "yes."

Here are a couple of observations and personal recruiting experiences:

(1)  Ask yourself these honest questions:

WHO is doing the recruiting?  And HOW are they doing it?

In some churches, the answer is "nobody," or "only 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.  

Another problem I've seen is recruiters who are lousy at their job and do things that make people say "no" the next time they are asked. They don't fully describe the responsibilities to their recruits, or they recruit at the last minute, or they don't get materials to their recruits until the last minute.

Many lone rangers are disorganized and are lousy planners. Some lone rangers also find it easier to "do it all themselves" and don't share leadership. (This somewhat described me when I was a young youth pastor. I learned the hard way that delegation and letting others shine was better for everyone concerned, and made people want to say "yes" to future asks.)

I was once asked for recruiting advice by a young pastor who was a real oddball and somewhat abrasive. My suggestion was to find someone else to do their recruiting.

Years ago when I was training a seminary intern, I told them they needed to follow-up with those they recruited as the date of the event got closer. They didn't and several expected leaders didn't show up. Luckily some parents stepped up to help at the last minute, but I learned my lesson too --always follow up on those who are supposed to being doing the follow up. These days with cellphones and texting, there's no excuse.

(2) I would also look to your Juniors and Seniors in High School.

Your older teens are typically mature enough to teach young children (with some training) and not that interested in sitting with 9th graders in youth class. In my experience, it has been those "recruited" youth who end up developing a deeper faith and commitment to coming to church, and a relationship with other adults in the congregation.

I found it especially easy to recruit the "fringe kids" among our teens. My favorite examples of this are Justin and Mark. Justin was the stereotypical greasy-haired geek who felt out of place among his peers. Mark was a quiet, giant footballer who had insecurities. Yet they loved to help with our computers and drama classes --most likely because they didn't feel judged by the younger kids who looked up to them.

(3) I have also had good luck recruiting ENTIRE FAMILIES.

Mom, Dad, Grandma, college student, teen. --to teach as a family or lead at an event. Many parents are looking for things to do with their kids and help them connect to the church and their faith.

During a CROP Hunger Walk, I walked with Dan who talked the whole 6K about his two difficult young teens who put up a fight about coming to church. I discovered they liked to fish as a family, so I asked them to organize a church family fishing trip to a nearby lake, with the boys coming to help the younger kids learn how to cast. That spring, I asked the boys to plan and lead a hike with clues/treasures for the younger kids during our upcoming family retreat (that their parents wanted to go to) --and they miraculously agreed to attend. When it came time for recruiting for the church picnic or church workdays or helping with the liturgy in worship, I knew I could ask Dan and he wouldn't get pushback from his boys.

A big part of recruiting is training, but not in the way you think...

Training events are nice, but I've found no better substitute than asking someone to "come teach with me."  I learned this "Sunday School recruiting trick" by accident when I first started teaching with computers in my Sunday School.

I knew almost nothing about computers back then, or teaching with them, except that I needed some "techies" to come help me This was pre-Windows and I needed loading and starting programs in DOS back then, and extra hands on the keyboard to make the programs work (no mouses).

My techies didn't know much about the Bible or how to teach, so I was always looking toward them at the other computers and saying "let's do it like this, point this out, etc. Eventually I started writing out my teaching advice/steps on the whiteboard and pointing to it as the lesson went on. And eventually my techies caught on and became teachers in their own right.

Jim was an engineer who regularly read his Bible. He loved our computer lab idea but claimed not to be a teacher. When his twins were in Kindergarten, I asked him to teach the older kids class with me a couple of times so that he could be his boy's computer lab teacher the next year once a month with it was their turn in the lab (we rotated). Worked like a charm, and I could also call upon Jim to help me with the older kids as needed.

The answer is to get out of your recruiting box and think about how your ministry with people "creates their yes."


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  • Recruiting Sunday School Teachers
Last edited by Neil MacQueen

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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  • 23920

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 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!

My experience has been that many people really enjoy teaching the kids once they get involved, and discover so much themselves through teaching, including getting closer to God and scripture.

The fear the regular church-goer feels is that they will not know enough Bible and will be embarrassed in front of the kids, so we help them understand that it's okay to say "I don't know the full answer to that, what do you think?"  I tell them that teaching is a great way to discover more about the Bible and discover or exercise their various creative talents --whether it's showing a video, leading a discussion or game, or doing art with the kids. The workshops of the Rotation Model give them many ways to discover their gifts.

We do a spiritual gifts assessment 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 have used to have volunteers pick the dated commitments we need volunteers for. You can set up your Kids worship times and list the number of teachers, shepherds you need. I  send a link to our page to our volunteers and they sign up for the weeks they are available to serve.

The site reminds them the week prior to their Sunday commitment which is really nice. I should add that we are not a small church, so makes our volunteer management easier on our leaders.

I have used this site for about 4 years now and it does take some of the burden off. I send group reminders through 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.

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

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

We recruit teachers 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 information about each workshop they can sign up to teach, we also have volunteer slots and descriptions for "Trail Guides" (which includes attending a scheduled orientation/training). The table also includes 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 private Facebook 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 to the FB page too, so they can browse when it's convenient for them.

We have also extended an open invitation for anyone to visit our September rotation of workshops to "see what it's like" in our workshops and meet current teachers and guides.


Clarifications added by moderator


Last edited by Neil MacQueen

The Minion has gotten a lot of attention!  It's for the "Chain Gang" game in our October Gideon rotation (from a lesson posted by Augustana Lutheran Church, St. James, MN). 

EDITED by volunteer TO ADD: Link to Gideon's Trumpets Game Workshop from Augustana Lutheran.

Last edited by Amy Crane

What a great idea with the visuals in the pool!  I may have to use that next year.  We have our Rally Day this Sunday where we get a lot of our teachers to sign up on this day.  Also I I really like the "secret "FB group idea.  Thanks for sharing!

Summer of 2020, and many people are a bit uncertain about meeting in person.  Some churches have started up a socially distanced sort of programming, or are planning to do so after school starts.

But some churches are planning to continue with virtual online Sunday school. See the discussion here with online ideas to help with that. And here is a thoughtful article from Building Faith about Reengaging Volunteer Leaders For Digital Ministry.  The author encourages us to start recruiting people to help lead the online programming and she gives good suggestions for both finding those volunteers and for making sure those volunteers are equipped to serve in an online environment.

Recruiting Sunday School Teachers
as we work to renew in-church Sunday School

The 2020-21 pandemic was a huge blow to in-person Sunday School. Attendance may take years to rebound in some churches. Why? Because people are creatures of habit. Some have lost the habit of attending regularly, and others have lost the habit of attending entirely.

You can read here what some of the church experts are predicting about post-pandemic church attendance.

The silver lining:

Many adults and families need or are looking for
a reason to get back in the habit of going to church
--and volunteering to teach can BE THAT REASON.

One of the reasons that many people volunteer in Sunday School is that it gives them that EXTRA MOTIVATION to get to church on Sunday. They come because they HAVE TO, they've made a commitment to teach. They know they will be missed. They know they will let down others.

Be honest with people: signing up to teach will help them

  • have a great reason to get out of bed on Sunday morning
  • do Bible study
  • learn how to express their faith
  • and will make them a hero to the little kids!

See the "Ten Great Reasons To Teach Sunday School" Handout!